Monday, March 28, 2016

Tivoli COE: Next-to-Nil Nelson

Apart from making a phone call to Prime Mister Bruce Golding informing him that COP Hardley Lewin and CDS Major General Stuart Saunders was in his company and had certain information which would be on interest to him, what else did Minister of National Security, Hon. Dwight Nelson, do in respect of the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke?

It is very difficult to avoid the answer: “Next to nothing”.

There is no evidence before the Tivoli COE from which one could even reasonably infer that Nelson made another phone call concerning the impending request.
Minister Nelson did not accompany the COP and the CDS to the Prime Minister and did not discuss with either of the heads of the security forces or the Prime Minister what took place at that meeting.
The Minister admitted that he absolutely did not have any responsibility in the extradition matters.
At no stage did the Minister of National Security get involved.
Nelson had no meeting in relation to operations in May 2010 with the security forces.
Had not requested or required to do anything in the role of Minister of National Security:

“ There was nothing I could do. I could not give any instructions to the Police. I had no authority to instruct the Police in the operations they were carrying out, and I certainly had no authority to instruct the Defence Force, because that is not within the realms of my responsibility. But I sat in a number of discussions with the Prime Minister, who as you can imagine whose authority supersede my authority as Minister of National Security.” 

Nelson was made aware of the incidents of May 2010 primarily by the Prime Minister with whom       he sat in a number of meetings in cabinet and less formally at Vale Royal.
Nelson, however, was not aware of a “soft plan” to detain Coke; not apprised of the use of mortars in the Tivoli operations; never made aware of any request for assistance from the US with aerial surveillance; not aware of any surveillance of a house in Belvedere where Coke was alleged to be.

Nelson’s participation in the hearings had a saving grace: exposure of the treatment of documents once the Minister has demitted office:

“Remember,you know, when I left the Ministry of National Security I did not take any letters, any files, any folders, I left everything there. I did not take a piece of paper out of the Ministry with me. I left everything there and prior to writing the statement, I spoke to the former Permanent Secretary and the Director of Security in the Ministry and my former secretary who is now secretary of the present Minister to determine whether any of those documents could be retrieved or existed still and was told, no, they were all destroyed. I was told by the secretary to the Minister and the Director of Security and the former Permanent Secretary that they destroyed everything even cabinet files.”

That archaic practice runs counter to any attempt at transparency and accountability. This “established practice” at the very minimum fuels the public perception of corruption by political office holders.

“I cannot recall” any lasting contribution of Nelson even in the Manatt COE. That indeed may be his legacy.

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