Former Deputy Commissioner of Police Maxine Graham took the stand today in the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the March 2020 General and Regional Elections. Graham testified that just like former Commissioner Leslie James, former City Divisional Commander Edgar Thomas was reachable during the commotion at Ashmins Building.
Graham explained that on March 5, she was stationed at Police Headquarters in Eve Leary when she noticed, through a live feed from the Ashmins Building, an uproar taking place among party agents, politicians and police officers. She noted that a few minutes later, she was notified of a bomb threat at the Command Centre.
“I called Commander Thomas and I asked him whether he was aware of the commotion at Ashmins and he confirmed that it was indeed a bomb scare. He then informed me that everything was under control and we came off the phone,” Graham said. She noted that the conversation occurred around 10:00 am that morning. She noted that around midday, through the Police Headquarter’s surveillance feed, she noticed that the situation at the Ashmims building got worse.
Graham recollected that repeated calls to Commander Thomas went unanswered. While she viewed the feed, there was also audio feed coming from the force’s radio set, and the voice of the then Deputy Commander Azore, who seemed to have been having a hard time bringing order at the Command Center.
“I called Thomas’ cell phone and radio set several times and there was no answer. I decided to call him on his landline number (At the Brickdam Police Station) and he answered. I said to Commander Thomas there seems to be a situation at the Ashmins Building. He told me that everything was under control. I told him that from all indications it doesn’t seem so, because on the radio set, you heard Commander Azore asking for backup,” Graham said.
She noted that she later confirmed that Thomas was neither there at the report of the bomb scare or even when pandemonium broke out at midday on March 5, 2020. Graham said that shortly after, she conveyed to Former Commissioner James that she reached Thomas via his landline and was surprised that he was not on duty at the Ashmins Building.
She noted that James then contacted the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh to ascertain what had been occurring at the Command Center. She testified that James conveyed as well that he was unable to reach Thomas and made the decision to relieve the then Commander of his duties.
James had earlier testified to the Commission that he relieved Thomas as Commander because in the evening of March 5, 2020, he had abandoned his post, leaving his ranks and the then Deputy Commander alone. Graham and James’ testimonies now contradict Thomas’ statement that he was given instructions by James to clear the building.