Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C, M.P has presented legal clarity to the move by President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali to appoint acting Deputy Commissioner in charge of operations, Clifton Hicken to act as Commissioner of Police.
Former Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie will soon proceed on pre-retirement leave. As such, there was an urgent need to fill the substantive position, to affirm the continued smooth operations of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
This, President Ali said, was done in conformity with the “doctrine of necessity”.
Minister Nandlall seconded this position on his weekly programme “Issues in the News”, saying that not only was it extremely necessary, but Hicken’s extensive knowledge and experience in the GPF makes him well suited for the job.
“[Hicken] has served the Police force with distinction. He has served the police force for many years, he has acted in very senior positions, he has headed several divisions across the country, and from all indications and from all the evidence available, he has acquitted himself with distinction and with a high degree of professionalism,” the Attorney General said.
He responded to the mulling of court action by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) against the President’s decision, noting that it is hard to ascertain what will be filed.
Further, Minister Nandlall pointed out that the Constitution outlines those consultations should be done before the appointment. However, in the absence of the other involved parties, the President is still empowered to execute those duties.
“I don’t know what they’re filing, that’s the first thing. The Constitution provides for the appointment of a Commissioner of Police. The appointment is made by His Excellency…and that appointment is to be made by the President after [he] would have engaged in meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and the Chairperson of the Police Service Commission. Currently, we don’t have a Leader of the Opposition and we don’t have a Police Service Commission. It’s no fault of the government or the President that there is no Leader of the Opposition,” said Nandlall.
The Attorney General reminded that the GPF, which is one of the most important institutions for the maintenance of safety and protection, should not be left without a leader, more so a competent one, to continue the smooth operation of the organisation.
He explained, “Mr. Nigel Hoppie, who was acting in the office of the Commissioner of Police, his tenure has come to an end. The Police Force cannot be headless. The Police Commissioner is the person who has overall management and superintendence over the Guyana Police Force…therefore you cannot have a Police Force without a person performing those functions.”
On Monday, President Ali announced the appointment of Clifton Hicken as acting Commissioner of Police. His appointment took effect yesterday.