Police Commissioner Says he Did Nothing Wrong in Granting Himself Firearm Permits
GUYANA – Outgoing Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud on Wednesday defended his decision to apply for personal firearm licences, saying that he was merely following what most other outgoing Police Commissioners had done, according to a Demerara Waves Online News report.
“If you look historically over the past twenty-five years, you would see that all the Commissioners, maybe with the exception of one, granted themselves firearm licences,” he was quoted by the online news agency as saying shortly after his farewell parade.
With regards to the self-granting of a firearm dealership, according to Demwaves, he said the records also show that in the 1980s, a then outgoing Police Commissioner had also done so. Persaud was reported as saying he decided to apply for the dealership certificate so close to his retirement because the business would have started only after he retires in April at the end of 34 years.
“It’s a business. I can’t do business on the job and it will only operationalised after I leave the job,” he was reported as saying, adding that he has since decided not to pursue that line of business anymore.
Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan on Wednesday said Persaud was ordered to revoke the firearm dealer’s licence that he granted himself last month shortly after he resumed duty.
“What he did was undone by my instructing him to revoke that licence… What he did was undone by my instructing him to have it revoked and that’s the end of the matter,” Ramjattan was reported as curtly telling Demerara Waves Online News.
According to Demerara Waves, the Firearms Act does not empower the Minister to revoke a firearm dealer’s licence; only the prescribed officer in the area. The law requires applications to be sent to the Police Commissioner who is required to conduct a background check to ascertain whether that person has any criminal report, is engaged in any illegal activity, a threat to national security or is engaged in any other activity that will render him ineligible to become a licensed firearms dealer.
The law states that a report on the findings must be sent to the Minister who will then dispatch it to the Firearms Licensing Approval Board for a review. The Board then recommends to the Minister whether a licensed firearms dealership should be granted to the applicant and the Minister then decides, either in his own deliberate judgement or on the basis of the recommendation, whether a firearm dealership certificate should be issued.
Later on Wednesday, Ramjattan, who is acting as Prime Minister, declined to speak with the media once more on the issue and when pressed by reporters, he got agitated saying, “you could haul yuh ass”.
A reporter asked Ramjattan, “Did the application for firearm licences come to your desk or through the Firearm licensing board?” He became upset, telling the reporter that he should have time and place. After the reporter persisted, he said, “Ah you could haul yuh ass.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Ramjattan also used expletives when Demerara Waves Online News sought a clarification on the process that Persaud used to comply with an instruction to revoke the licences that he had granted himself. “What the f–k you trying to tell me?” he was reported as saying.
When Ramjattan was reminded that he had spoken with Demerara Waves Online News earlier in the day, he was told that he had also used indecent language during that telephone call. His unapologetic response was, “Yes, there are times when I could use expletives”. The Minister, who is also a Second Vice President, said “I am not dodging no issue” when pressed for further details on the issue.