By Wired JA
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, March 18, 2021 – Former Lands and Survey Commissioner, Trevor Benn on Wednesday emerged from a question and answer session with the Guyana Police Force’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID), saying that the Irfaan Ali administration was becoming a “creeping dictatorship.”
He was reacting following his interrogation by the police in relation to what the Irfaan Ali regime has alleged as illegal land transactions amounting to more than GYD$100 million while he was the Commissioner of Lands. This is in addition to a previous charge profferred against him by the government for misconduct in public office relating to the sale of Government land at Ogle to an investor.
Benn, in maintaining his innocence, declared that “This is total harassment. I have done nothing wrong. I want to maintain that,” he said.
Mr. Benn said this time, the police questioned him about the lease of a plot of land on Mandela Avenue and the sale of land on Aubrey Barker Street on the grounds that he had no power to do.
The following day, the Chief Executive of CEVON’s Waste Management, Morse Archer, was called in for questioning by the Criminal Investigations Department in relation to a plot of land that he acquired from the Lands and Surveys along Mandela Avenue.
Archer’s attorney Neil Boston said it appeared as though the Police was trying to use statements made by this client as evidence to take criminal action against Benn, and advised his client about providing statements although they claimed that the businessman was not a suspect.
The Attorney said the investigators wanted a statement detailing how the land along Mandela Avenue was acquired from the Lands and Surveys Commission.
A few weeks ago, Archer was threatened with legal action by the Attorney General if he did not give up the land within weeks. But the Attorney General eventually backed down claiming that a resolution was being examined.
The CEVON’s owner has made it clear that he followed all legal requirements for acquiring the land and paid $100 Million to the Lands and Surveys Commission, which was more than the land was valued.
The former Lands Commissioner who was once a former official of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) exclaimed that “Anybody who knows me know that you cannot corrupt me. I’m incorruptible and every cent during my stay at Lands and Surveys that was for the Lands and Surveys was received by the Lands and Surveys.” said Benn,
The former Lands and Surveys Commissioner is already before the court on a charge of misconduct in public office in relation to lands at Ogle, East Coast Demerara that were supposedly owned by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), government’s holding company for State assets.
He said before that charge was instituted, he had been read a charge of receiving GYD$27 million by false pretence, but he pointed out that that money had been paid into the State’s coffers.
Benn recalled that when he was taken from his home by the police and arrested last weekend, he was placed in a police lockup where conditions were deplorable. “I spent almost 72 hours in the lockup with common criminals of every kind. My first cell was one filled with faeces running over and water all over the floor so this was intended to inflict maximum pain on me but I’m a Benn and these things don’t break us,” he said.
Mr. Benn told the media that the charges filed against him is a clear case of vindictiveness by the current government. He said it was foolish to be charged for bringing in money for the government.
“What this government has done to me, is to make me more resolved now to be an advocate for the people of Guyana. I think this is vindictive witch-hunting on the part of the government to destroy and besmirch the character of a professional black man.
I have worked all my life with international organizations and in many countries around the world and I have never faced this. I don’t understand how you can bring a charge that speaks to a man helping the government, bringing resources and revenue to the government and you are charging me for bringing revenue to the government”, Benn said.
Trevor Benn was appointed to head the Lands and Surveys Commission under the APNU+AFC Government and has been credited with modernizing the government agency and getting it out of its financial woes.