Leader of the Opposition ,Bharrat Jagdeo has filed an action in which he is asking Justice Franklyn Holder for an order striking out an application filed by citizens Dianna Deravinee Rajcumar and Phillip Marcus, in which they are demanding that he produce the academic qualifications of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali.

The application was filed by lawyer Anil Nandlall. It came up for hearing this afternoon before Justice Holder at the High Court in Demerara. In the application, Nandlall contends that the action filed by the two citizens is scandalous, frivolous and vexatious and is an abuse of the Court’s process pursuant to Rule 14.01(1)(a) of the Civil Procedure Rules.

In fact, Nandlall, a former Attorney General, argues that the application filed by the citizens does not challenge the qualifications for election of the President which are set out in Article 90 of the Constitution of Guyana. He said that by virtue of the aforesaid Article, Ali is duly qualified to be elected as President.

Nandlall added that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has already accepted PPP/C Lists of Candidates for the upcoming General and Regional elections on which Ali has been identified as the Presidential Candidate. Article 90 of the Constitution reads: (1) A person shall be qualified for election as President and shall not be so qualified unless he or she –

(a) is a citizen of Guyana and is Guyanese by birth or parentage as defined in articles 43 and 44;
(b) is residing in Guyana on the date of nomination for election and was continuously residing therein for a period of seven years immediately before that date; and
(c) is otherwise qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly.

Keeping the foregoing in mind, Nandlall submits that Ali is a Guyanese by birth and has a permanent place of abode at Sea Spray, Leonora, West Coast Demerara; he is not a citizen of any other country. Ali, Nandlall stated, is also qualified to be elected as a Member of the National Assembly, and indeed was a member of the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Parliament

According to Nandlall, Ali served as Minister of Housing, Trade and Industry and was also head of the Public Accounts Committee of the Eleventh Parliament. So, if the citizens believe that Ali is an unsuitable for the post, then they have the right and freedom under the Constitution not to vote for him, and to vote for another Presidential Candidate or political party of their choice.

Against this backdrop, Nandlall argues that Jagdeo has no duty in law to produce the documents being requested by the citizens for their perusal. Nandlall further contends that the application filed by the citizens has no prospect of success and should be dismissed with costs being awarded to Jagdeo.

It was on February 07, that Attorney-at-Law Stephen Lewis, on behalf of the citizens filed the application asking the court to order Jagdeo to disclose the academic qualification of the party’s Presidential Candidate. Contending that they are entitled to know the qualifications of the presidential hopeful, Rajcumar and Marcus are asking the High Court to order Jagdeo to produce the First Degree Certificate and Transcripts for any First Degree conferred on Ali.

Apart from that, they also want information on the name of the university or institution Ali would have obtained his qualifications.
Further, the concerned citizens are asking for information concerning the nature of the study completed in relation to any First Degree; information setting out whether Ali was issued with a Certificate of Graduation, which states that it was issued by the Business College, West Demerara Chamber of Commerce and information on whether any studies at the said Business College, West Demerara Chamber did lead to him acquiring a BA Degree in Planning.

Further, they are also requesting a copy of any transcript issued by the said Business College, West Demerara Chamber in respect of a BA Degree in Planning; information on whether any Degree was obtained by Ali from the University of Sunderland along with a copy of the certificate and transcript from the said university.

Should the court grant their request, they are asking that the documents be produced within same says from the date of the court’s order. The court action was filed by Attorney-at-Law Stephen Lewis at the High Court in Demerara. Ali came under scrutiny last year after reports surfaced of his qualifications not being authentic.

Despite this, Ali has maintained that his “real” certification, including diplomas and degrees, are already in the public domain. In October last year, the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad released its list of graduands for the academic year 2018/2019. Ali was on that list as a graduand for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Urban and Regional Planning.

Right now, Ali is facing 19 fraud charges for alleging selling State lands way below the market price to high ranking public officials including Jagdeo. It is being alleged that the lands worth some $212.4M were sold for a scanty $39.8M. His lawyers have moved to the Court of Appeal in an attempt to have the charges quashed. The Court’s ruling in this regard is imminent.


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