Evidence presented by Jagdeo indisputable; Trevor Benn knows it

Dear Editor,
By exposing the massive land-grab at Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC), the Leader of the Opposition has undoubtedly disturbed a vampire’s nest. And now they are all running wild trying to cover up their tracks!
At his recent press conference, Bharrat Jagdeo, armed with copies of maps with valuable information from GL&SC, very articulately exposed the shameful theft of prime real-estate by Government officials and a tiny elite cabal of the APNU.
Despite this, we’re yet to hear from President Granger, under whose name strategic areas of State land were given away.
It’s unbelievable how a man who avoids the press like a plague, whose Government has been engaged in scandals and corruption almost on a daily basis, gets a free pass by some sections of the media, while the PPP/C gets blamed for everything that goes wrong in Guyana by Kaieteur News and News Room even though the PPP/C has been out of office since 2015.
When the land-grab scandal, complete with maps, names and file numbers was exposed to the public, Kaieteur News chose to carry a headline, “Lands and Surveys Commissioner provides facts on Opposition Leader’s land-grabbing claims”.
But what “facts” were presented by Lands and Surveys to dismiss the accusations made by Jagdeo? Why accuse Jagdeo of presenting fake maps? Did the Commissioner of the GL&SC, Trevor Benn, at his press conference, present the original maps of the areas identified with different ownership to prove Jagdeo was lying? What other “facts” were produced by Benn to refute these allegations? The evidence presented by Jagdeo was indisputable, and Trevor Benn knows it. And while the Government propagandist, Gordon Mosley, was too busy trying to prevent others from airing the damaging report, News Room did not even carry the original story when it was exposed by Jagdeo, but instead carried the entire Charles Ceres statement to the media the very next day. But what else can be expected from News Room?
According to a PPP press release the party notes the comments made [by] Mr Charles Ceres, who peddled a blatant lie when he denied allegedly receiving the 112 acres of land at Bohemia, Region 6, even though documents [File Number: 621112/4] indicated that he did. He also confirmed that he received 4.5 acres of land at Liliendaal, Region 4, and defended this acquisition by saying that the land was used as the site for the construction of a single office. It was disingenuous on the part of Mr Ceres to compare his land acquisition, used to build a single office, with land acquired through public tender and other allocated land, under the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, which resulted in massive investments – MovieTowne, Giftland, etc – and the creation of hundreds of jobs and opportunities for our Guyanese people. The fact that former PPP/C officials are charged now for land allocations in the same area exposes the duplicity of the coalition Administration. To further defend his acquisition of land, Mr Ceres made allegations about other land allocations under the former PPP/C Government, which will be addressed by the party in due time. Additionally, in an attempt to divert attention from his land acquisition, he also claimed that he was named because he is an Afro-Guyanese, even while he admitted that he, as an Afro-Guyanese, received over 1000 acres of land under the “Jagdeo Administration”, which he returned to the State because he was unable to pursue development on the land”.
Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission is a department that falls under the President. GL&SC gives out State lands in the President’s name. It is natural for one to believe the  President would know what is going on in his own office, or what is being done in his name. The purpose of Jagdeo’s exposé was to show how key personnel in the Ministry of the Presidency and SOCU have been securing strategic tracts of Government land that are likely to flip in a year or two for millions of US dollars to the oil companies at the expense of the Guyanese people and the country at large. Thousands of acres were given away to Government officials and friends of the PNC/APNU within weeks after the No-Confidence Motion had been successfully passed in Parliament. Is that a coincidence?
Head of the Project Management Office at the Ministry of the Presidency, Marlon Bristol got one acre at Mocha on February 4, 2019, and 12 acres at Dalawala in Linden where very lucrative deep-water harbour and shore-based facilities are likely to be developed in June 2019. He also got 80 acres at Bohemia in Berbice where lucrative deep-water harbour and shore-based facilities will be developed in February 2019.
Charles Ceres, whose wife, Ndibi Schwiers, is Director of Environment at the Ministry of the Presidency, got 4.5 acres at Liliendaal; 112 acres at Bohemia in Berbice (File Number 621112/4) where lucrative deep-water harbour and shore-based facilities are likely to be developed.
Eric Phillips, SARA Special Assistant, who lied in a letter he wrote earlier this year denying that he received land from the Government, got 1000 acres in the Essequibo River in April 2019, File Number 321132/1604, and 1000 acres in the Demerara River earlier this year. File Number 331231/7. While he now confirms that he benefited from massive land allocations, he is still to explain why, on February 22, 2019, in a letter to Stabroek News, he denied that he applied for or received land. In his letter, Eric Phillips had called for the evidence to be produced. Now that the evidence has been produced, he is attempting to argue using race. It is also important to note that while SARA is hell-bent on prosecuting Jagdeo and others for purchasing land at Pradoville 2 below market value, two members of this agency are grabbing up as much land as they can get below the market value. We’ll see how this plays out in court.
Aubrey Heath-Retemeyer, Deputy Head of SARA, which falls under the Ministry of the Presidency received 10 acres on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, File Number 411412/522b; and 1 acre at Mocha earlier this year.
Great Wall Inc, of which Saratu Phillips is a Director, got 20.70 acres of Schoonard Foreshore (in the Demerara River – proposed site for shore-based facility), File Number 332242/3; 20 acres of Goed Fortuin Foreshore (in the Demerara River – proposed site for shore-based facility), File Number 3322421/3 and 50.8 acres at Best Foreshore (Including parts of the Atlantic Ocean) File Number 332231/38.  Note that in his press conference, Commissioner Trevor Benn failed to explain the criteria or the business plan to justify giving away 50.8 acres of the Best Foreshore which includes parts of the Atlantic Ocean, and the 40 acres of land on the western side of the Demerara River that alone would be worth about US$100 million, given the shore-based facility that can be exploited there by oil companies. Phillips was involved in the Georgetown parking meter fiasco. The company, Gold Bar Development and Consulting Inc, headed by Saratu Phillips and Shawn Hopkinson, also benefited from a gold export licence in 2018. A former PNC Member of Parliament also got 1200 acres in the Pomeroon River, and another 6400 acres that is set to be approved. Another member of his family was also given 2900 acres in the same area.
But the most shocking of all is that GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, received 216 acres of land at Millie’s Hideout in Linden in June 2019, and 2 acres of land at Mocha. Since this sensitive giveaway to Lowenfield was done earlier this month after the CCJ ruling, one has to wonder whether this is a payoff to further delay the elections by caving to Government’s demands for House-To-House Registration.

Obligated to provide answers?
Editor, doesn’t the President feel obligated to provide answers to the public for all the corruption that’s taking place in his name?
It is my opinion that the PNC propagandist has been collaborating with Lands and Surveys to cover-up the corruption, and to use the press conference to draw attention away from the President in another attempt to protect his “clean” image. So as usual, racism lifts its ugly head again, and they’re painting this as a “Black” issue.
Let’s not be fooled, this has nothing to do with racism, but everything to do with corruption. Ordinary Black people are not benefitting from this land giveaway by the Government they voted for, nor have they benefitted from the so-called “good life” they were promised. It is only a privileged few like the so-called “Black Activist” Eric Phillips, with strong connections to Granger and his cabal, who are the beneficiaries of this pathetic act of greed and corruption. And this is going on nationwide.

Lands taken away from farmers
Just recently in Region Five, land that was used by cattle farmers of the Shieldstown Cattle Rearer’s Co-op Society in an area known as Rampoor for over 20 years, were taken away by the MMA-ADA and were allegedly given to cronies of this Government. These include the former Chief Medical Officer of Region Five, Steven Cheefoon, who received 99.93 acres, and other members of his family. Floyd Cheefoon got 200.28 acres;  John Cheefoon, 199.98 acres; and James Cheefoon, 99.87 acres. Others include Denise Hamilton, 200 acres; Patricia Mc Pherson and Humphry Leue, 400 acres;  Dr Zulfikar Bux, 100 acres; Tazeem Bux, 100 acres;  and APNU Member of Parliament, Jennifer Wade, who received 100 acres.
If this is true, I am calling for a full-fledged investigation into this matter. Despite the successful passage of the Whistleblowers Act, a dangerous trend is emerging by this Government to silence anyone who is opposed to their corrupt activities.
Recently, the newly appointed Public Service Minister, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, fired the accountant and all the staff of the Personnel Department in her Ministry because she believed that the information given to Jagdeo came from a whistleblower in her department. And so to be sure, she fired everyone for leaking information which exposed the transfer of $20 million in taxpayers’ money to the private bank accounts of the children of Minister Simona Broomes by the Ministry of the Presidency. Similarly, rather than focus on who may have been bribed to give away massive areas of strategically located State land, Trevor Benn is on a witch-hunt to find the patriotic employee who gave Jagdeo copies of the documents from Lands and Surveys to end the corruption taking place there, and is using threats to discourage whistleblowers. But Benn has no case. These documents clearly show locations, acreage, plot numbers and ownership, and could have easily be refuted by Benn at his press conference if Jagdeo’s accusations were false. But they were not! I wouldn’t be surprised if these maps no longer exist at GL&SC. I urge all patriotic public servants to continue to expose all wrongdoings in their respective departments, and to play their part in putting an end to Government corruption and to this illegal cabal that masquerades as Ministers of Government.

Harry Gill
PPP/C Member of