Retired Deputy Commissioner of Police, Maxine Graham today told the Elections Commission of Inquiry (COI) that Assistant Commissioner of Police, Edgar Thomas ignored initial instructions to send additional police support to the Guyana Elections Commission’s Command Centre when a ruckus broke out during the tabulation of votes on March 5, 2020.
She also told the Commission that several statements he provided to the Commission were completely false and untrue.
The retired Deputy Police Commissioner, was responsible for operations in the Guyana Police Force at the time of the 2020 elections.
She explained today that following reports of a bomb threat at the Command Centre on March 5, 2020, she observed, via live security footage, that there was a build up of activities in and around the Ashmins’ Building, and as such, she raised an alarm.
Ms Graham explained that while Mr Thomas, who was the Divisional Commander at the time, had responded to the bomb threat early that morning, he had ignored her instructions to send additional support when contact was made with him at around 10:00hrs.
According to her, Asst. Commissioner Thomas, who now serves as the Head of the Presidential Guard Unit, he believes that he had sufficient ranks on the ground, and there was no need for additional support.
Though the ruckus was streamed live, Mr Thomas, insisted that there was no need for additional police on the ground.
Ms Graham told the Commission that attempts to make contact with Mr Thomas a second time proved challenging, with calls to his cell phone going unanswered. She said it was not until she called his office, that he picked up, but again maintained his position.
“I said you are to head to Ashmins’ now because there is a situation there from what I am seeing on the camera – persons are moving from the first floor to the second and to the third floor, and he said he has systems in place, and I said you cannot have systems in place when what I am seeing happening and what I am seeing on camera is Senior Superintendent Azore and ranks are in tussle with people there, and you said you have systems in place. You have to get additional ranks, hear on the set, he is asking for back up, he is asking for back up,” she said as she recalled the exchange between she and Mr Thomas.
The retired Deputy Police Commissioner said she reported the situation to the then Commissioner of Police Leslie James, who instructed her to inform Mr Thomas that he would be relieved of his command. She said she passed on that message to him the same evening.
In his testimony, Mr Thomas contended that Ms Graham had instructed him to clear the Command Centre but today, she denied the allegation, claiming that it was not until March 6, 2022 that she was informed that an instruction was handed down by the Police Commissioner that the Ashmins Centre be cleared. She also disputed his testimony that she was in contact with the Deputy Chief Election Officer, making it clear that there was no such contact between the two on the day in question.
Ms Graham, who made references to notes that she kept and compiled served as the liaison between the Police Force and the Elections Commission during the 2020 elections.
At one stage during her appearance today, she sought the Commission’s assistance to get the Trinidadian Counsel to the Commission to speak to her in a lower tone of voice and more respectfully, saying that she was there to assist the Commission through her testimony, but it appeared as though others were there for various reasons.
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