By Kadeem Joseph
Teary-eyed and bewildered, Wendy Christian-Peters told Observer that her family is calling for justice after the brutal daylight killing of her brother, Nigel Christian.
Remembering the 44-year-old Customs inspector, who was slain last Friday after being kidnapped from his mother’s McKinnon’s home, as the “rock” of the family, Christian-Peters said, “The way my grandfather raised him, I know the integrity of my brother, so for him, I demand justice.”
In a brief but emotional interview with Observer on Tuesday morning, Nigel’s sister said at this point the family needs to know “why, and who wanted her brother dead”.
Christian-Peters was speaking via video call from the United States during a picket outside Attorney General (AG) Steadroy Benjamin’s office, where scores of residents joined a group of individuals identifying themselves as ‘Concerned Citizens’.
She also expressed her gratitude to Concerned Citizens group member, Dr Jacqui Quinn, for their efforts in demanding justice for Nigel.
The frustration was visible and the unease was almost palpable as scores of residents joined the picket with placards that demanded answers.
Dr Quinn said they are “afraid and enraged” and are asking the AG to “seek outside assistance” from either Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States, or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, all of whom, in their view, have the “experience, the expertise, the forensic professionalism to bring a conclusion to the heinous crime”.
She said that the group’s request does not reflect a belief that the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda is incompetent, but they are pleading for the “necessary help” to be sought, “because Customs officers, law enforcement officers, people across the length and breadth of Antigua and Barbuda are in fear of their lives”.
In a letter delivered to Benjamin around 9am yesterday, the group said the “heinous crime has rocked the nation” and “has shaken right-thinking citizens to our core” highlighting that Nigel Christian has been the second Customs officer who has been targeted by criminal elements.
Last October, another Customs officer — Cornell Benjamin — was also shot and wounded while at home. He remains overseas after he had to seek further medical attention for the injuries he sustained, and to date there has been no breakthrough in that case.
“We commend the government (through the Prime Minister) for offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, but we strongly feel you need to go further by inviting outside assistance,” the letter stated.
While the letter was addressed to the AG, the correspondence was copied to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Minister of State within the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Maria Bird-Browne, and Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney.
One protestor told Observer that she felt it was important to join the picket because “it could be any one of us”.
“I am also a mother, so I know the pain that his mother must be feeling, knowing that something so tragic happened to her son,” she said.
A woman who identified herself as Nigel’s cousin said, “I am a mother of two sons and it could happen to my sons as well; I am heartbroken.”
Also standing in solidarity with the picketers was Hondell Jhingoree, the mother of Tray Griffith who went missing in November 2018 and has not been found since.
“As far as I know, my son has been missing for two years now and I am just here to support … we need help from outsiders because as you can see my placard, it’s bigger than our police force,” she said.
Meanwhile, during an interview on Observer AM yesterday, Commissioner Rodney stated his belief that the force is “capable” and has the resources and expertise needed to investigate the matter, however, he is not ruling out assistance from other agencies.
“We have already started to speak to our regional partners because we have a lot of expertise right within the region,” he said. “Sometimes people go straight to the first world countries, but right within the region we have some expertise we can tap into.”
Rodney added that the police force will explore getting additional assistance from external agencies as the need arises.
Responding to the appeal for external law enforcement to help with the investigation, the Attorney General said that was premature.
Benjamin, who is also minister of national security, said the investigation was still in its preliminary stage and expressed confidence in the capabilities of local law enforcement officials. He added, however, that any request from the police force for further assistance will be “acted upon immediately”.