Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, wants the High Court to dismiss the challenge by Opposition Member of Parliament Christopher Jones to the President’s unilateral appointment of Clifton Hicken as the Acting Police Commissioner.
Benn who was named as a respondent in the Court action filed his response to the challenge by Jones and is of the view that Mr. Hicken is qualified and has the experience to act as Police Commissioner.
According to the Home Affairs Minister, the President’s decision to appoint Hicken without consulting with the Opposition Leader and the Police Service Commission was a result of the office of both the Opposition Leader and the Police Service Commission being vacant at the time.
Minister Benn states that owing to national security issues including the decades-old claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region by Venezuela, there was the need for an Acting Police Commissioner to be in place.
He said there could not be a vacuum left in the Office of Police Commissioner and the appointment by the President was meant to be for a transitional period until an Opposition Leader and a Police Service Commission came into place.
The Home Affairs Minister said he believes that it would have been catastrophic for the President to leave a vacuum in the office of the Commissioner of Police while waiting for the appointment of an Opposition Leader.
He said there are serious issues related to national security and border security that required the office of the Police Commissioner to be occupied.
In May, Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones moved to the High Court to scrap the appointment of Mr. Clifton Hicken as acting Police Commissioner while seeking an order to render all actions taken by Mr. Hicken as acting Top Cop, null and void.
In the Application, Jones is asking the Court to declare that the invocation of the doctrine of necessity which the President used to appoint Mr. Hicken as acting Commissioner of Police is unreasonable, ultra vires under the Constitution, Common Law and is illegal, null, void and of no legal effect.
Two weeks ago, the President through his Governance Minister wrote to the Opposition Leader inviting him to consultations on the appointment of Clifton Hicken as the Acting Police Commissioner. The Opposition Leader who has repeatedly stated that he is not supportive of Hicken being in the position said he could not understand how the President wants to make the same appointment again after deciding that it was legal for him to do so on his own.