KANGAROO COMMISSION? An Antiguan friend who lives on St. Croix mentioned that Vance Amory is the only Caribbean leader who will have no money when he leaves office. “What do you mean by that”? I asked. “The man is too honest to be a politician,”was the reply. I believe the honesty and integrity of Mr. Amory has been displayed and proven repeatedly, and I also believe that is the general consensus of most, not only Nevisians but also thousands of others who have had any dealings with, and or any knowledge of the Honorable gentleman. Nevisians now have to grapple with the fact that a commission of inquiry has been launched by the NRP led Nevis Island Government, obviously targeting the former premier especially, among others of the CCM government, for the period 1992-2006. Talk of this CoI has been bandied around for about three years but many thought it was idle and provocative. Is there is something that shady and wrong to justify our government spending millions of dollars in these dry economic times to try and find out what is already known? On Tuesday, May 19, just 3 days before Mr. Amory’s 60th birthday, the first stage of the commission of inquiry to look into the activities of the former CCM-led Nevis Island Administration commenced when a British Commissioner was sworn in by Governor General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian. Mr. Thomas Sharpe QC, from England will lead the inquiry along with the commission’s counsel, Sir Richard Cheltenham QC, junior counsel Mr. Jeffery Nisbett, with Mr. Morrice Tyrell and Ms. Myrna Liburd assisting as secretariat. To get to the matter, the terms of reference as issued, I”ll simplify: 1) The purchase of Marion Heights Shopping Mall, the building that is now owned by government and is presently housing education and tourism offices. 2) The acquisition and sale of 24 acres of land at Pinney’s 3) The sale of 80 acres of land. Yes! The same 80 acres that was hot and untrue during the 2006 election. 4) The movement of some $300,000.00 between banks in Nevis and Jamaica in connection with a former legal advisor of the NIA. 5) The construction of Vance W. Amory Airport and payment of 1.9 million dollars for the same. Two other matters relevant to the commission’s terms and references would also be investigated, as pointed out by Mr. Sharpe. “To determine whether the above matters were conducted in accordance with all relevant law, ordinances, regulations and good administrative practices”and; “To identify deficiencies, if any, in the functioning of the public administration of the Nevis Island Administration as a result of the inquiry into the matters identified herein and to make such observations and recommendations for the correction of such”, if found necessary and for the improvement and strengthening of the system of public administration.”Now, I”ve never been interested in getting deeply involved with law but these references seem vague and certainly not worth the time and money that will be spent. All information on these references should be public knowledge and certainly can be checked, verified and if something is amiss then the matter could have been brought before the high court for resolution. The Marion Heights building in question is presently being used although nothing has been done to lift its image since the present government took office in 2006. The 80 acres issue as explained, is land sold by a private entity to an individual and has nothing to do with government directly. It has been stated by NRP stalwarts that the 80 acres story already did its job – that was to help win the 2006 election. One now wonders who will answer to the spurious allegations since the Honorable Earle Malcolm Guishard is no longer with us. The Vance W. Amory International Airport is functional and although seemingly marginalized by those in authority, it would be most unlikely to find any shady dealings in that completed project. The US$300,000 issue between Mr. Mark Anderson, a former legal advisor, and the involvement with Barclays Bank Nevis Branch and the National Bank of Jamaica. That issue should be peanuts for the DPP to investigate and prosecute if warranted. The individual, banks and amount have already been identified so it’s questionable why the DPP has not been handed that case. When one realizes that all the individuals sitting on this CoI are connected very closely with the NRP party, it seems rather like a kangaroo court in the making. Added to that, Mr. Morrice Tyrell who is named for manning the secretariat has made numerous callous and hateful statements against Mr. Amory. He has been vehement in his public attack on his former friend Vance Amory, and one wonders how could justice be served with the bitterness that exists. This commission of inquiry holds an extremely interesting grip on our focus at this present time. Premier Parry stated, “A poll was done and over 74 percent of the people of Nevis demanded that the inquiry be held”. One wonders the authenticity of those words but it certainly seems unrealistic that Nevisians at this time will favor such a Witch Hunt. Strangely, no cost of the inquiry has been forthcoming from the NIA, nor the commission. A figure of 9 million dollars has been estimated and bandied around but Mr. Sharp indicated he had no idea how much it would cost. He subsequently said the cost would not even be a third of the bandied 9 million. This type of confusion and secrecy about the COI has already put bitter taste in the mouths of Nevisians. The irony of Mr. Sharpe and the NIA talking about transparency, fairness and good governance is a total mockery and abuse of the power vested in these folks. Nevisians, we have to hold our government accountable and responsible for this sharing out of this vast amount of our money at this particular time. Monies that will undoubted find itself, funding another political campaign.
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