Jagdeo says SOCU’s visit was to test system

first_img…expects reciprocity on how Govt officials will be treatedThe recent decision to attend an interview with investigators of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) over the sale of lands at Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara, was to test the system and set a precedent for others to follow, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said.“I went there. I could have said that I choose to remain silent like everyone who had gone in there, but I used the constitutional provision that is there because I wanted it tested. And the testing it sets a precedence,” Jagdeo told a news conference on Thursday.He explained to members of the press why he decided to adhere to a request for an interview with SOCU on Tuesday. Jagdeo, who later invoked presidential immunity that same day, said he is prepared to drop the immunity and allow Police to question him.However, the former Guyanese Head of State said the only way he would, is if President David Granger is questioned by SOCU investigators over the controversial award of a contract to a Dutch company for a feasibility study into the new Demerara River bridge.“If the President, when he is questioned in SOCU, chooses to give answers as to why he presided over Cabinet and approved a contract that was contrary to the law, I’ll go back to SOCU and I will not use that constitutional provision and you have that from me so I’m hoping he’ll do that now. You have heard me say that,” Jagdeo stated.But Jagdeo explained that although he holds a constitutional post and was chair of Cabinet for the matter being investigated, he still attended the interview, even though he had the option of refusing to do so. “I expect reciprocity in terms of how Government officials will be treated,” the former President explained.Jagdeo said he was assured by Head of SOCU, Sydney James that in spite of Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson sending a statement, he will have to attend an interview.“I hope he will do the same thing that I did and that is, I informed the press before I went there. And as I promised at my press conference… so they had a nice picture of me going into SOCU,” Jagdeo reminded.The Opposition Leader noted that he also expects that all Cabinet members, including President David Granger, will visit SOCU. “So as to explain why did this Cabinet approve a contract that it had no authority to do so,” the Opposition Leader added.The contract in question was awarded to Dutch company, LievenseCSO, for a feasibility study into the new Demerara River bridge.The Opposition had requested that the Public Procurement Commission investigate the award of the $148 million sole sourced contract.In its report on the matter, the Commission flagged Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the contract be sole sourced, instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law says should be done.It was subsequently announced that SOCU would be investigating the contract award.Sources indicated that Minister Patterson had submitted a statement to SOCU. There are reports that he paid a very low-key visit to the agency, in sharp contrast to Jagdeo’s open visit to SOCU on Monday.When contacted on Tuesday, SOCU head, Assistant Commissioner Sydney James, was reluctant to speak on the matter and promised to check with his investigators. Calls to Minister Patterson himself went unanswered.It was reported on Tuesday that SOCU had given the parliamentary Opposition a commitment that members of the coalition Government will be questioned concerning the controversial contract.last_img read more