Minnis Urges Web Shop Shutdowns
Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said that the party is outraged that neither the police nor the government has taken action to shut down web shop gaming days after Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett lifted a conservatory order that prevented them from interference by authorities.
“We urge a forthright and immediate course of action by the police to obtain search warrants, to close down all illegal gambling and lottery operations, and to confiscate all computer terminals, servers and the ATM machines which are being used to facilitate illegal gambling, and illegal money transfers, whether that gambling takes place in the web shops themselves, or in private homes, so that the law of The Bahamas, the sound and well considered ruling of the chief justice, and the administration of justice generally are not brought into disrepute by what appears to be lame excuses, and no action by the police and the minister of national security,” said Minnis at a press conference at FNM headquarters on Mackey Street.
Minnis blasted the Christie administration and the police for “apparent inaction” following Sir Michael’s ruling.
In his judgment last week, Sir Michael said, “This is not a proper case for the court to exercise its discretion to restrain the police from discharging their duties as they consider it proper to do.”
Attorneys for web shop operators have appealed and are seeking a stay of Sir Michael’s ruling pending the determination of a substantial application before the Supreme Court.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade has refused to say whether police would shut down web shops.
Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said the police would act in accordance with the law, but would not say if any action would be taken following Sir Michael’s ruling.
When asked about the ruling last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he would have to confer with Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson before making any announcements.
Minnis said, “There is absolutely no excuse for the total absence of any meaningful action by the police, and for the kind of lame explanations offered by Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage and Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade.”
He continued, “It is a gross dereliction of duty for the minister of national security to shrug his shoulders and pass the buck to some lawyers in the Office of the Attorney General.”
On January 28, a majority of people who voted in a referendum voted against the establishment of a national lottery and the regulation and taxation of web shops.
The next day, Christie ordered all web shop operators to shut down their gaming operations immediately or face arrest and prosecution.
On January 30, attorneys Wayne Munroe and Alfred Sears, a former attorney general, obtained the conservatory order on behalf of Island Luck, Island Game, Whatfall, FML Group of Companies, Asue Draw, Paradise Games and Chances.
By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Guardian Staff Reporter