Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein says that he has been advised of the reported arrest of Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation Glen Ram but the removal of a Mayor or chairman of a Municipal Corporation does not fall to the Minister with responsibility for Local Government.
In a statement, Hosein said specific sections of the Municipal Corporations Act “provide for the circumstances under which the Chairman of a Corporation may be disqualified or removed from office.”
Ram is a United National Congress (UNC) Councillor.
Speaking with TV6 News via telephone on Wednesday, UNC public relations officer –Anita Haynes said, “We understand Mr. Ram was picked up at his office by officers of the ACIB (Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau) accompanied by members of the Defence Force. That’s the information we got from his office staff.”
The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Corporate Communications Unit issued a statement saying that “investigations by officers of the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau have led to the arrest of a Councillor and a Ministry employee on separate charges.”
“The 46-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday 22nd May, 2019, at the office of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation and is expected to be charged with corruptly agreeing to receive a bribe and corruptly receiving a bribe in June 2018,” the Police Service said in its statement.
The Police Service further said, “The bribe is valued at TT$1,500.”
Hosein further said: “Further to enquires regarding his continued functioning as Chairman, I am to advise that the removal of a Mayor or Chairman of a Municipal Corporation does not fall to the Minister with responsibility for Local Government. In this regard, sections 11, 15 and 16 of the Municipal Corporations Act provide for the circumstances under which the Chairman of a Corporation may be disqualified or removed from office.”
What the Municipal Corporations Act says
Section 11 (8) of the Municipal Corporations Act states “a person is disqualified from being a Councillor if he—
(a) is by virtue of his own act under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or State;
(b) has been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt and has not been discharged;
(c) is a mentally ill person within the meaning of the Mental Health Act;
(d) is under sentence of death or is serving a sentence of imprisonment exceeding twelve months imposed on him by a Court of competent jurisdiction in Trinidad and Tobago or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him by such a Court or is under such a sentence of imprisonment the execution of whichhas been suspended;
(e) is disqualified for such election under the Representation of the People Act;(f) is a member of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Tobago House of Assembly or another Municipal Council;
(g) holds any office or place of profit, other than Mayor or Deputy Mayor, in the gift or disposal of the Corporation; but a person shall not be disqualified by reason of— (i) receiving or being entitled to receive payment by way only of travelling or subsistence allowances, or a refund of out-of-pocket expenses; (ii) his receiving fees as a medical practitioner from the Corporation as the local authority of a sanitary district, fees for the notification of cases of infectious diseases under the Public Health Ordinance or any similar written law;
(h) is debarred from exercising the practice of his profession on account of any act involving dishonesty;
(i) has within five years before the day of the election or since his election been surcharged to an amount exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars under the Exchequer and Audit Act orunder Part VI of this Act;
(j) is a person whose name appears on the List of Aldermen under section 12A; and is a person who is a sitting Alderman having been declared an Alderman by the Elections andBoundaries Commission under section 13.”
Section 15 of the Act states:
(1) The Mayor shall hold office for a term which shall be the same as that of the Councillors and Aldermen.
(2) Unless the Mayor resigns or ceases to be qualified or becomes disqualified or is removed from office in accordance with this Act, he shall continue in office until his successor in office has accepted office and has made and subscribed the appropriate declaration.
Section 16 of the Act states “a Mayor shall be removed as Chairman of a Council upon the resolution passed by the Council and supported by the votes of not less than three-fourths of all the members of the Council”.
The UNC says this is an ongoing narrative by the PNM, to “lock somebody up”
In a statement, the UNC said “this matter is now before the police, and as such we await the outcome of the investigation.”
“The details on the detention are still being made available, and we do not wish to speculate, however it must be noted that all citizens are deserving of due process, justice and fairplay. It however, cannot be denied that this has been an ongoing narrative by the PNM, that they were going (to) “lock somebody up.” This has been their consistent talking point in and out of Parliament, and in the recent weeks we have seen the beginning of this plan taking force. It would also be the height of naivety to ignore the fact that this is an election year,” the UNC said.
Government has said it is not involved in arrests or laying of charges. That is the sole responsibility of the Police Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
After the arrests of former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and former UNC Senator Gerald Ramdeen by the ACIB earlier this month, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said on May 1st, “ That is the independence of enshrined in our Constitution to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Similarly, under section 123 A of the Constitution, the Police Commissioner has exclusive management of the affairs of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.”
Ramlogan and Ramdeen are out on bail.