In a rather stunning and bizarre development, Guyana’s usually belligerent attorney general has found himself at the center of one of the worst political storms for the year after he told a local newspaper that gunmen will soon storm the newsroom and kill whomever is there if the paper does not back off from its aggressive anti-corruption coverage.
The daily Kaieteur News Newspaper this week dropped a political bombshell on the administration of President Donald Ramotar and the country by extension, by publishing the verbatim transcript of a 20-minute telephone call from Anil Nandlall to a reporter, warning him to leave the job because gunmen will soon invade the south city premises and use weapons on the staff and anyone there.
“Me ah tell you innocent, me ah tell you honestly, man to man, that will happen soon. So the quicker you get out of deh, the better,” he suggested to Senior Writer Leonard Gildarie, urging him to leave the job and work with government because death will soon stalk the newsroom.
The paper has been relentlessly exposing corruption at the highest levels of government including the siphoning off of millions of American dollars from foreign contractors and investors and its now well entrenched habit of ignoring tender board and procurement rules, much to the chagrin of the opposition and civil society.
For this it has earned the anger of authorities and has been rewarded with a string of multi-million dollar libel suits.
Government’s discomfort with the paper, publisher and owner Glenn Lall and its staff boiled over in the past week when Nandlall called the paper to express fears about an alleged imminent expose on his wife and to suggest that those in authority had grown tired and become ‘sensitive” with the paper and its exposes.
“No, hear nah, you know how it gun stop? Somebody gun go into Kaieteur. You see everybody nah gat, as I told Adam (Harris, editor in chief) today. I said Adam, everybody don’t just…everybody, wait hold on…everybody doesn’t have a newspaper to use as a weapon. I told Adam, I said ‘Adam people got weapons, right? Is not newspaper they gonna use as a weapon; they got weapons and when you continue attack people like that and they have no way of responding, they gun just walk with their weapon into that same f***ing Saffon Street office and wha come suh do. Innocent Peter gun gah pay fuh f***ing Paul in deh one day.”
Nandlall has publicly admitted that the voice on the recording is his and that he might take legal action against a paper he says that has also been attacking his wife. She is an attorney at the state’s tax office. Lall was once a close bosom buddy of most top officials until a falling out a few years back.
Once the recording hit the airways and the transcript appeared on social media, government astonishingly rushed a statement saying that “it believes in the integrity and professionalism of the minister and stands by him.”
As he struggled to recover from the bombshell, Nandlall took to Facebok uncharacteristically noting that, “I will not succumb to cowardice. I am simply not genetically configured that way. History will absolve me. Good always triumphs over evil.”
He has so far survived calls for his resignation but many now think that he has damaged the governing party, which could soon face a no confidence vote in an opposition-controlled parliament that could force its resignation and make it call general elections in 90 days.
On the other hand, publisher Lall who has vowed to continue his anti-corruption drive has himself run into trouble with Nandlal, Tax Commissioner Kurshid Sattaur and other officials who have clearly grown uncomfortable with the publication, the highest selling in the country.
He and his shoe store owner wife, Bhena, were earlier this month slapped with criminal tax evasion charges linked to their usage of two luxury SUV’s imported by and registered to a family friend but used constantly by the Lalls until they were seized by authorities recently.
Lall could face up to five years in jail and forced to pay customs three times the value of the vehicle if found guilty.