Nandlall to sue AG over “stolen” law books allegation

Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has indicated that he would be taking the incumbent office holder, Basil Williams, to court over allegations he has made that Nandlall had stolen a series of Commonwealth Law Books from the State.

And Attorney General Basil Williams told reporters on Friday that charges are looming against Nandlall, who had previously accused the AG of victimisation for criticizing his performance. However, Williams has posited that whether or not his predecessor is critiquing his work as AG, Nandlall will have to face criminal charges nonetheless.

Former AG Anil Nandlall

“He (would) say that because he is attacking me, that I’m retaliating,” the Attorney General noted, while adding: “Mr Nandlall has stolen Government property and he will be charged, whether he attacks me now or never!”

Responding to this statement, Nandlall declared at a press conference on Saturday that he has gone too long ignoring the utterances of the Attorney General, and will take legal action against him. “In the very near future, I’m going to sue him for libel for that very statement he has made, and I’ll put a rest to that matter once and for all. I was ignoring him because I knew, as a lawyer, that (his) contention (has) no substance at all, and that’s why I never really bothered with his repeated statements on this issue,” the former AG announced.

Last year, Minister Williams announced that the books, worth $2.5 million, were missing, and he subsequently launched an audit after sending home the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Indira Anandjit.

Attorney General Basil Williams

During the probe, former President Donald Ramotar had written Auditor General Deodat Sharma, informing him that as part of his employment contract, an arrangement had been made with Nandlall for the state to pay for the continuous subscription of the books while he was in office.

Nandlall was subscribing to the programme years prior, and even to date. In fact, the former Legal Affairs Minister disclosed at Saturday’s press conference that during the transition process following the 2015 Elections, he had informed Williams of the arrangement with the State, to which the AG had reportedly responded by saying he wished that he, too, had had a subscription, so that the State could pay for it as well.

Nandlall said the issue of the “missing books” was raised months later, after he had begun criticising Williams’s work. “He said to me in the National Assembly one day that unless I stopped my public criticism of him, he would make this allegation about missing law books, and I said to him, ‘Go ahead’. The law books are now missing, I have them…

“He keeps making this scandalous allegation because that is all he can say as a response to me doing my job, which is to scrutinise his functions. That is my parliamentary job and my political mandate,” the Opposition MP stated.

Nandlall opined that if he were to stop criticising Williams, talks of the charges in relation to the law books would disappear. However, he noted that this is something he refuses to do.

Moreover, Nandlall outlined that the special audit that was launched by Williams did not find any wrongdoing, and so he was vindicated of any crime. He said his disclosure of the AG’s actions in court on Thursday — when Williams had reportedly threatened a sitting judge, causing the judge to walk off the bench — was the impetus to drive talks of charges being filed against him.

“We have informed the international community that democracy (in Guyana) is under threat; that if a person is critical of the Government or critical of a Minister, then he exposes himself to trumped up criminal charges and persecution,” Nandlall disclosed.

According to Nandlall, this most recent utterance by the AG — of charges to be filed against Nandlall — coupled with similar pronouncements made by Public Security Ministry Khemraj Ramjattan ahead of the arrests of several former prominent Government officials by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) earlier this month, reflects a larger picture of Government’s policy in relation to the Opposition.

To this end, the former Attorney General has outlined that any charges brought against him would be politically influenced, and would also be challenged on the grounds that the AG is using the State apparatus to persecute political opponents.

According to Nandlall, this move by the AG is improper and unlawful, and is another expression of political contamination of the legal system and criminal process to stifle democracy and to paralyze the Opposition from discharging its mandate as an effective Opposition, scrutinising and criticising Government’s conduct.