Former Minister of Housing, Dr Roodal Moonilal, is calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to say whether two top members of the Defence Force have been granted apartments at the upscale Victoria Keys Housing Estate.
The issue was raised at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum in St Helena. On Tuesday, Moonilal issued a statement to the media.
“Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley must state whether his Government provided any inducements to the most senior officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force in the midst of an investigation into “Armygate.”
“Armygate” pertains to the photographed evidence of the children of Attorney General Faris Al Rawi posing with high-powered military weapons at the restricted Cumuto army base.
I had made that disclosure in Parliament last October.
At this week’s Monday Night Forum of United National Congress, I publicly revealed that Rodney Smart has been provided with a three-bedroom Housing Development Corporation home at the upscale Victoria Keys Housing Estate from “personal funds/savings” for $2.4 million.
Brigadier General Rodney Smart is the name of the recently-retired Chief of Defence Staff.
I also disclosed that Hayden Pritchard was provided with a two-bedroom home at the same housing community for $1.85 million.
Hayden Pritchard is the name of the current Acting Chief of Defence Staff.
Mr. Smart and Mr. Pritchard would have had final responsibility, at various times, for the investigation into major breaches in procedures that led to Mr. Al Rawi’s children posing with deadly weapons at the controlled army site.
I stressed that this was no indictment on the integrity of Mr. Smart and Mr. Pritchard, who are career military officers and are expected to conduct themselves with the highest professionalism and honour.
But I recalled that in April 2016, Dr. Rowley had called for a “detailed investigation into alleged inducements and personal benefits” to police officers involved in an enquiry pertaining to former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Dr. Rowley alleged that the investigating police officers had received State housing, Priority Bus Route passes and had their vacations bought out.
Of note is that Mr. Smart’s vacation leave was bought out by the current Government and this was justified by National Security Minister, Edmund Dillon.
I repeat my call for members of the protective services to conduct themselves with the professionalism and trustworthiness befitting their independent offices.