Axe National Security Minister Not Soldiers

A former bodyguard to the previous Prime Minister is calling for the National Security Minister to be sacked, in light of the recent break-in at Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s Hodges Bay home.

the nation’s leader Prime Minister Gaston Browne returned home from a vacation with his family over a week ago, and was surprised to find out that his private residence was burglarized while being guarded by soldiers and police officers.

The investigation led to soldiers attached to the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force being dismissed from the PM’s security detail after evidence showed that the break-in may have happened under their watch.

But former Police Inspector and Bodyguard Trevor Young say that PM Browne should sack National Security Minister Steadroy Benjamin because he failed to heed a warning upon taking office that the Police Force is corrupt.

“I lay everything that is going wrong with the law enforcement in Antigua and Barbuda at the feet of the National Security Minister because when he came to take over the Police Force, I told him that the Police Force has some corrupt elements that he needs to deal with. To me, the Hon. Prime Minister should not stop the Defense Force from working there, he should sack the National Security minister, he said.

Young further stated that the morality in the nation’s security system is also low. He also accused the National Security Minster of appointing a family member to the Police Service Commission, despite her corrupt background.

“The moral in the Police Force at this time is very low even when promotion is high. The structure of the Police Service Commission alone….the National Security Minister appointed one of his relatives on the Commission which committed a serious infraction in relation to corruption before being expelled form the Police Force,” he said.

Meantime, Former National Security Minister in St. Kitts and Nevis Dwyer Astaphan disagreed with Young’s notion that the soldiers, who were charged with securing the Prime Minister’s home, should not have been dismissed.

He said due to the sensitivity of the nature and what he termed as a breach in both Trust and National Security, the soldiers, whether or not involved in the crime should remain off the job due to their incompetency.

“This is a very serious situation. I also respectfully disagree with Mr. Young when he suggested that the defense force should be retained in so far as being a security detail. All of the men who were on duty at the time, every single one of them should be questioned and prosecuted if necessary and certainly, whether or not they were involved, these people who were there are not competent to secure the home a the Prime Minister…they should not be wearing those uniforms,” he said.

Astaphan says this now makes it impossible not to question the criteria used before employing individuals into such sensitive fields of work.

“And this begs to question as to what type of criteria are used to screen people bringing them into these organisations, what kind of training are being used?”

“You have to start weeding out the bad eggs,” he added, noting that “If you bring people with criminal mentalities into these security organisations, you’re giving them license to do criminal things so the screening process is very important.”

The Former National Security Minister said that officers of the law should go through the most rigorous exercises before and while being employed because of the nature of their jobs. He also commented on the fact that no surveillance cameras were installed at the Prime Minister’s residence.

“To whom much is given much is expected. These people are entrusted with the National security of the country, from the Prime Minister down to the most ordinary Antiguan or Barbudan and I personally have  no problem with putting these people through the most rigorous regiments to ensure that you have the most impeccable characters, professionalism and commitment in there.”

On the matter of CCTV cameras, Astaphan questioned that “as a politician or a public official, I cannot for the life of me imagine how that house did not have cameras installed well before him becoming the Prime Minister?”

News Reporter

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