As the Guyana Police Force continues probing the alleged electoral fraud, embattled Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and three staff members of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) who worked with him during the March 2 General and Regional Elections remain in Police custody assisting with the investigation.
Mingo was arrested on Tuesday at his Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara (ECD) home and escorted to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters at Eve Leary, Kingston, where he is being questioned in relation to the well-documented attempts to alter the results of the recently concluded election.
Three election officials who worked closely with Mingo have also been taken into Police custody. One of these officials has been identified as 42-year-old Carolyn Duncan, a registration officer attached to the Better Hope Office of the Elections Commission. She was taken into custody on Tuesday along with Mingo. According to the Police Force, Duncan was also attached to Mingo’s Secretariat, which was located in the Ashmin’s Building at High and Hadfield Streets, Georgetown.
The other two persons are: Sheffern February and Michelle Miller. They were arrested on Wednesday.
Guyana Times understands that a senior official at the Elections Secretariat has allegedly retained a lawyer to represent these three staffers. However, that lawyer, Attorney Eusi Anderson, in a letter on Wednesday, denied being retained by GECOM.
“No one at GECOM is paying, or has paid, or has retained me to represent my three clients. Each of my three clients has personally retained me,” he disclosed.
However, a GECOM Commissioner has confirmed otherwise. The Commissioner contended that it was a senior official from the Elections Secretariat who retained the lawyer on behalf of the three GECOM staffers.
The Commissioner also lamented that the Secretariat continues to operate on its own, taking decisions without the consent of the seven-member Commission. The GECOM Commission has not met since August 2, when its Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, declared the Dr Irfaan Ali-led PPP/C party winner of the March 2020 elections.
On the other hand, APNU/AFC lawyers Roysdale Forde and Darren Wade are now representing Mingo. In fact, Forde is on the Coalition’s list of Members of Parliament submitted to GECOM. He confirmed during an interview on the APNU+AFC Coalition’s social media page that he and Wade are trying to have the embattled Returning Officer released from Police custody.
“We’re in the process of taking steps to ensure that he is released. It seems as if we’ll have to resort to court to obtain relief from the court in relation to Mr. Mingo’s liberty,” Forde said.
Meanwhile, Guyana Times understands that more persons would be detained for questioning as the investigation widens.
Mingo, who served as the Region Four Returning Officer, has been accused of attempting to alter the results of the March 2 elections in Guyana’s largest voting district in favour of the APNU/AFC, which was refusing to accept electoral defeat and has been accused of attempting to undermine the will of the people.
Last Friday, the Police Force announced that it was investigating alleged criminal conduct by Mingo and others, including Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, who is currently facing private criminal fraud charges before the courts.
Only Monday, Volda Lawrence, Chairperson of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNCR) – the leading party of the APNU faction of the Coalition – and Mingo were charged in relation to the unverified declaration of results for Region Four. They are being accused of forging official electoral documents in an effort to defraud the country.
While Lawrence was placed on $100,000 bail during her arraignment before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, Mingo did not make a court appearance, as he was never served with the private criminal charges filed against them.
It was Mingo’s attempts to alter the results of the elections that led to the National Recount exercise, which ultimately proved the major differences in the figures being called by the RO compared to the actual numbers of votes cast.
The difference was noted by the Head of the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Guyana, Bruce Golding, who had stated that he had never seen such a “transparent effort to alter the results of an election”.