Lovell to meet with GG on Customs fraud

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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

The Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell and the Governor General Sir Rodney Williams are expected to meet this morning to discuss Lovell’s call for the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry into the attempted murder of Customs Officer, Cornel Benjamin.

Lovell, in a letter to Sir Rodney and four other key government officials, called on the Governor General to use the powers vested in him under section 80 (1) of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Act and appoint, immediately, one or more commissioners to inquire into the matter.

Lovell told OBSERVER media that he was contacted by Sir Rodney’s office and the meeting has been scheduled for 10 am.

Meantime, the UPP’s Political Leader said he is amazed that neither Prime Minister Gaston Browne nor the Minister of National Security Steadroy Benjamin has made a clear public statement condemning the shooting and expressing empathy and support for Benjamin. 

 “They have been strangely silent on the matter which begs the question whether they are protecting some person or persons, and if so, who are they shielding?” Lovell asked.

In addition, he said the Comptroller of Customs, Raju Boddu, has shown “extraordinary bad manners and disrespect by failing to even acknowledge the letter that was written to him”.

The UPP leader said Boddu should remember that he is a public servant and “without the support and confidence of the public, he cannot perform his duties effectively”.

He said the UPP will continue to monitor developments at the Customs and Excise Division very closely and “if we conclude the Comptroller of Customs is covering up corruption, we will call for his immediate removal from that position”.

Meantime, Acting Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney responded to Lovell’s letter concerning the attempted murder of Benjamin.

Rodney claimed that the police force is taking the matter very seriously and is utilising all avenues available and that no effort would be spared in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The alleged attempt was made on Benjamin’s life just over a month ago after two gunmen shot and severely wounded him.

Benjamin, who sustained injuries to both legs during the attack, is currently in Jamaica where he is receiving further medical attention.

The gunmen have yet to be identified, much less brought to justice.

Benjamin was attached to the Enforcement Unit of the Customs and Excise Division and was a member of the investigative team which was conducting a probe into the missing money that the Cabinet brought to the public’s attention just three days before he was shot.

Meantime the Collector of Customs was invited to Cabinet and according to reports, he provided an update on the investigation that is taking place surrounding the shooting of Benjamin.

The investigation, according to notes from the Cabinet, is multi-pronged.

“The police are involved in the investigation. The Customs Division has been investigating several incidents of wrongdoing by a broker, and await the outcome of the Criminal Investigation Department,” it said.

The Director of Public Prosecution has also been reportedly providing advice in the matter.

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