Death Threats Commotion Raises Concerns In FNM Ranks

Wednesday 02nd, July 2014 / 09:02 Published by

hazard-sign-exclamationThis week, I found it interesting that high-level figures within the Free National Movement had received death threats since March but no one had bothered to inform the public or, for that matter, make such a stink about it that the police would have felt compelled to address these matters with urgency and as a matter of public record.

Strangely, it was only after FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner expressed her concerns to the public that Chairman Darren Cash decided to also notify the public that a threatening letter, sent on March 24 by mail, also named six of the party’s executives, including FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis, Mrs Butler-Turner, Mr Cash, Dr Duane Sands, Brensil Rolle, former parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Housing, and North Eleuthera MP Theo Neilly. Another threatening letter was sent to Dr Minnis on February 17, 2014 containing general threats to FNMs. What I found most interesting was Cash’s dismissive approach to the entire episode, which he has chosen to flippantly write off as “not serious”, as “pranks” and as “idle threats or distractions” that they would not be preoccupied with. How glib!

Who is Darren Cash to casually determine that these threats were not serious and simply dismiss them without informing the named targets of such threats? I always thought that Darren Cash was an accountant, but has he also received police training or some training to make such threat assessments? I think his utterances, in this instance, are nothing short of asinine. It makes one question if these letters that Mr Cash referred to ever existed in the first place because, quite honestly, I cannot imagine any right thinking person not informing persons named as targets of the state of affairs. Certainly, among many in the hierarchy of the FNM, the question of competence must arise.

How many persons were aware of this prior to this week’s revelations? Are the letters real or were they merely contrived to counter whatever sympathy the deputy leader would’ve gotten from her revealing to the public that she was threatened? How can the FNM really talk about freedom of information when some in the party could not even freely share this information with those affected within its own ranks?

In sharing her side of the story with the public, Mrs Butler-Turner expressed concern for her welfare and that of her family’s after death threats and demands that she resign from front-line politics in March of this year. If this happened all the way back in March—nearly four months ago—why didn’t anyone, including the deputy, say anything? She did say that she felt compelled to make the matter public now after receiving an ominous “warning” by phone Tuesday night, which left her unsettled.

The Long Island MP said she initially turned the matter over to police for investigation in March after receiving a threatening letter in the mail. However, she has heard little from police since making her report. In the threatening letter, which was turned over to authorities at the time, Mrs Butler-Turner said the author went into graphic detail of what was to happen to her in the moments leading up to her murder.

Mrs Butler-Turner said she met with high ranking officers, including Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade, head of the Central Detective Unit Superintendent Paul Rolle, and Inspector Mark Barett of the Cyber Crimes Unit during an initial meeting three months ago at the House of Assembly about the threatening letter. Frankly, since there have been no updates on the investigation, Mrs Butler-Turner did the right thing by coming to the press and exposing the matter. Surely, others within the hierarchy of the FNM ought to know that exposure of such happenings usually thwart whoever the wrongdoer is or at least forces them to think twice.

The notion that the police can still claim, even at this point, that the matter is being looked into speaks about the level of importance with which they handled it—which essentially equates to the level of importance with which the FNM itself handled these threats against its most prominent figures.

At this juncture, if the threats are generally considered to be genuine, the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition should be assigned an armed bodyguard with police surveillance and protection of his residence and the threat relative to the other key members named should be assessed, with a view to either assigning these individuals firearms (hand guns) or a bodyguard (say, the deputy leader) or at least increasing the police patrols and surveillance activities in the area of their residences.

ON WEBSHOP PENALTIES

It appears that the government has finally decided that it would charge the webshop operators a penalty for operating outside of the confines of the law—but, those fines will only account for a few years which is somewhat understandable. Whilst I support the regularization of web shops, I questioned whether or not such fines would be meted out in an appreciable fashion, boosting the Public Treasury and at the same time appeasing Bahamians, such as myself, who believe that operators should pay a significant fine for their past illicit activities.

Dr Andre Rollins, Chairman of the Gaming Board, is steadily earning my respect with his nationalistic stances on a variety of pertinent issues, not least among them being the regularization of number houses. Indeed, the projected revenue yield from web shops is pitiable and a mere $12 million per year in collectable taxes almost makes the entire exercise seem futile; after all, the government spent well over one million dollars on a referendum, the outcome of which is clearly being ignored.

Quite honestly, I too would want to know if there’s a license fee to accompany this $12 million yearly tax or if that $12 million is all-encompassing? And, will the government also institute a national lottery which daily seems more beneficial to the state and our national development?

Has an independent audit been conducted to truly determine the annual intake of each of the web shops or are figures being conjured up out of thin air or on the basis of what a web shop operator may have told the government? What methods of verification have been employed? Surely, the current government cannot be relying on the numbers proffered by the web shop operators to the former Ingraham administration, right? These questions ought to be answered and more research must be done to ascertain a true accounting of the possible revenue to be derived from web shops.

Adrian Gibson

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