Return of Sheriff Lobo

By Raffique Shah
July 01, 2012

Raffique ShahWHAT more must Jack Warner do to prove that he is unfit to be this country’s Minister of National Security? Declare war on Tobago or Venezuela or Barbados? Introduce a death squad to go around executing persons he suspects of being criminals or gangsters? Arrest and detain persons perceived to be opponents of the People’s Partnership Government?

Those who think I may be jesting by posing the above questions, think again. Here’s a man who, before he breached the Constitution by accompanying soldiers in a controversial, and quite possibly illegal, operation last Wednesday, explained the genesis of his misdeed this way: I was lying on my bed and thinking…. He could have paraphrased calypsonian Bomber, “Ah dreamin’ in mih dream, ah bounce up Burroughs….”

You take it upon yourself to summon the Chief of Defence Staff, no less, and ask (or order?) him to provide a contingent of armed soldiers. With pipsqueak Collin Partap in tow, you accompany the troops to Debe to commit what, prima facie, appears to be an unlawful act.

You mad, or what? It did not occur to you that what you were about to do was not clear a blocked drain or debris from a road or meet with some villagers and promise them road repairs? That you were tampering with the army, not with a division of the Ministry of Works? It never dawned on you that there are constitutional provisions that govern relations between the executive arm of the state and the coercive arms, the Defence Force and Protective Services? That there is something called the separation of powers? That the correct procedure was to report the offending, and quite possibly illegal camp to Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and ask him to have it removed forthwith?

I guess not. A disturbed mind driven by vengeance, by pettiness, by arrogance, can be a most potent political cocktail. The last time something comparable with this abuse of authority happened was back in 1964 when Patrick Solomon, the PNM Minister of Home Affairs, went into a police station where his stepson had been detained and ordered the police to release the boy.

That created a big stink, but Dr Eric Williams refused to fire Solomon. He did however relieve him of the security portfolio, shifting him to External Affairs. Sparrow immortalised the PM’s dictatorial response in song, “…who doh like it, get to hell outa here….” I need add that PNM supporters stood solidly behind “de Doctah” and his malfeasance.

The Warner incident is a case of “same difference”. Jack could not believe his good fortune when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar intimated to him that she would appoint him Minister of National Security. Deep in his heart he remained the SRP he was once upon a time, serge-suit, torchlight, baton et al, and now, abracadabra, the PM had magically transformed him into his old alter ego, the bungling Sheriff Lobo.

Now he could settle some long overdue “scores”, get back at persons who disrespected or abused or slighted him. Start with Wayne Kublalsingh, an easy, lightweight target who would herald the return of Lobo. From there, the sky would be the limit. He could lock up the whole Strike Squad. He could silence journalist Lasana Liburd. Hell, he might even muster the Lobo-authority to hit Chuck Blazer and Sepp Blatter some serious “calpets”.

Look, Jack is entitled to fulfill his wildest fantasies, however bizarre they may be. But damn it, not at the expense of the image and the reputation of Trinidad and Tobago. When the PM named him to the security portfolio, media reports, many of them carried in reputable international publications, referred to the “disgraced former FIFA vice president” being elevated to head national security in Trinidad and Tobago. They were laughing at us. Ah shame.

And you know what was worse than Lobo’s first faux pas? The sorry spectacle of his Cabinet colleagues, to a spineless man and woman, defending the indefensible. How could the Attorney General, a man supposedly versed in law, see nothing wrong with Jack’s gross violation of fundamental provisions of the Constitution? One might forgive the ignorance of others like new Works Minister Mano George, whom Jack claimed to have consulted before he donned his Lobo-gear fo-day morning to assault the camp. Mano is no lawyer. In fact, I don’t know what he is. Roodal Moonilal, too, swears that by his unconstitutional action, Jack prevented civil war in Debe. AG Anand Ramlogan insists there was no breach of convention or constitution although several learned attorneys have said otherwise. In other words, just as in the “Solomon affair”, once you are in power you can do no wrong.

As I stated earlier, the issue here is not the highway or Kublalsingh’s camp. A highway linking deep-South Trinidad to the rest of the country is 50 years overdue. I cannot say if the Re-Route Movement is justified in its claims that building it the way Government proposes would damage sensitive ecology. Or that their alternative is workable and cheaper. Qualified professionals must pronounce on matters like these.

The issue at hand is far bigger than the Point Fortin highway. But it is also far simpler. It is about right and wrong. It is about abuse of authority, this time around in the sensitive area of national security. While Cabinet makes policy decisions that determine the actions of the police and the army, ministers do not participate in or direct the operations of these arms of the state. It’s that simple. I shan’t waste time appealing to the Prime Minister to fire Lobo. The day he shows up, police in tow, with a warrant for her arrest, she may get a rude awakening.

9 Responses to “Return of Sheriff Lobo”


  • It seems that Shah has finally learned the difference between right and wrong…..ironic?

    • What is Shah really SAYING, his it that we must turn around now and make him the new Minister Of NATIONAL sECURITY, CAN HE NOT RECALL HIS own time. At the present time can Shah tell the people of trinidad whAT LAWS WERE BROKEN.

    • tman please keep reminding shah,like he can recall, when he picked up the same goverment GUNS AND WHEN AFTER THE SAME GOVERMENT/PEOPLE

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    He is part of the madness that caused Panday to lie about meeting Mandela, in the run up to the previous election to the last one. Jack was with him, and never denied it, but MAandela did.He is part of the madness that thought that bringing the son of Martin Luther King to Trinidad before election(previous one again) would help secure the African vote.I am proud to say that I had a hand in nixing that idea. He is part of the current madness that imports the HUGEST AMERICAN BLACK SPORTS PERSON, as a treat to our barefoot, hungry children, when what thy really need is not an African style visit from a BIGGIE, then forget them, but constructive programs that use our already existent facilities, to give young people acceptable outlets for their energies that are not directed to school, which is dull and over-crowded, nor to work because no one would hire them.
    Do we need a Shack when we have Brian Lara, Hasley Crowford, Juhel—,— Brown, and all the other athletes that have brought glory to Trinidad? This is an Olympc Year, are we sending a Basketball team, or are we doing track that we are good at? If we wanted to import someone, why not that young 400 Meter Grenadian Champion at the games last year?(He was 18 years old! Grenada did not even have a flag at the event, yet he set A WORLD RECORD!) Why not Usain Bolt for a one day inspirational jog around the Oval? Why not Ato Bolden, whose distinctive voice aDds commentary to NBC sports?

    This kind of nonsensical misspent money is what this party and this government does best. In addition, shack is the biggest unwed father there is. We need more of that too? I want to spit!

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    I read the headlined comments in the daily papers of some of the movers and shakers in the society, oncerning the visit of Shacquille O”Neal to TnT to launch a project.
    Shack is a good role mpdel for plaing a sport with dedication and enthusiasm, but he has a number of outside children with women he did not marry, although he is quite capable of funding a marriage.
    Perhaps Mr. Kambon,and others are dazzked by his sorts personality personna and are paying no attention to his moral position as an African American Man. His MCMonster house is near where I live. I still think if we want to turn young people around, we need to look for wholesome role models. Dropping a child here with this pretty woman, and dropping another there with a different woman is paying pussy-rent. That is all. Is that what we want our young men to do, play soports and have relations with many women resulting in many children in every hue but purple? The Hoop of Life would mean running young women around in circles. The diaphragm, a birth control device, is also a circle. Go figure.

  • Sheriff Lobo needs to get more sleep and take his wife on a well-deserved vacation. The “action man” many be a man of no action on matters that matter. Go lie on a beach Jack, sip a beer, eat some pelau or some curry chain and please see your doctor.

  • Jack Warner, the action man

    By Andre Bagoo
    Sunday, July 1 2012

    MINUTES after announcing former FIFA vice-chairman Jack Warner as Minister of National Security, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar defended her selection. She said Warner is a “man of action.” Now we come to see what kind of action we can expect from Warner, who last week was photographed removing items from the “camp” of a group opposed to a billion-dollar highway project. The incident has me re-reading Selvon’s A Brighter Sun.

    Warner — and his junior minister Colin Partap — made a show of being at the site, crossing arms and taking in abuse from the protesters. Warner said he called out the Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj, and Deputy Police Commissioner, Mervyn Richardson, to the site.

    Questions have been raised over the blurring of the lines marking the separation of powers, amid fears of the police becoming politicised. Yet, is Warner not entitled to report an instance of alleged law-breaking to the police? He cannot tell the police what to do, but surely he can report an instance of persons trespassing on State lands.

    What about the calling out of the Defence Force? A look at the Defence Act shows Warner is empowered to give any “special or general directions” to the Chief of Defence Staff — Section 191 (2). The Chief of Defence Staff, who is appointed by the President, is therefore subject to executive ministerial directive by Parliament’s law. This point has been missed in all the talk of separation of powers.

    If we assume no law or principle has been broken, we are left to wonder where Warner has erred or if he has erred at all. Perhaps the answer lies in his choice of calling out both the police and army. Was this a proportionate exercise of whatever power he has?

    To answer the question of proportionality, we may look at the apparent lack of any involvement in this “demolition” by the Commissioner for State Lands, the person who, by law, “shall have the management of all lands of the State and shall be charged with the prevention of squatting and encroachment upon the same.” The Commissioner acts on behalf of the President, not the Cabinet. And there is a clear process under the State Lands Act to deal with persons trespassing on State lands.

    At last week’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan argued the protesters were not squatters. But according to Section 20 of the act, a squatter is understood to be anybody in possession of land without any probable claim or pretence of title. Perhaps the process should have been handled via the Commissioner or with the authorisation of a magistrate and not a Cabinet minister.

    The question of proportionality is further deepened when we ask: how was the protest site a risk to national security? How did it come to fall within Warner’s remit as opposed to the Commissioner’s? Warner may have certain legal powers, but he has created the spectre of a possible abuse of power. Did he go too far? The impression left by his presence on the site is unsavoury and has handed the protesters a publicity coup and exposed his office to disrepute.

    http://www.newsday.co.tt/commentary/0,162606.html

  • All the points that Shah try to make why can he not come forward and tell the people what laws were broken by jack compare to the laws that were broken by him and some misguided friends of is. tell the people what laws is broken by the protest of camping out on state land

  • I hear Jack saying he want to bring in Choppers to spotlight night movement of People, bringing back the Flying Squad, well Pa Pa, you should know that this is 2012 and beyond.
    With GPS and High Tech, Who fooling Who?? Smart phone working with Statelite hook up, wants its metal, it could be tracked down.
    Did we hear Bandits Shooting now with Water Guns? Never heard of it!! Enamel cups oops!! Cops! Dirty Harry and the gang coming around town. Or Popeye and Bluto?
    Ok Parliament, to much TV watching, and reading books on crime solving. For real put common sense to the test. All this theories is somebodies idea, Trini’s don’t have original ideas?? only Weh weh and making a bet.
    Curry Duck and Roti, I wonder if the New Commissioner know how to make Roti by now? or is it Crab and dumplings-you hear? another Fete coming-the Big Boat Race…lay wee go!!!

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