Monday, Jul 22, 2019
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PM rejects calls for resignations   

The Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) calls for the resignations of Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames over their involvement in the Frank Smith bribery and extortion trial are nonsense, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday.

Both Minnis and Sands responded to the calls following a groundbreaking ceremony of the Colonial Group International on Grand Bahama.

When asked about the PLP’s calls, Sands said, “In terms of a call for my resignation, the devil is a liar.

“I think the Progressive Liberal Party is looking to restore credibility in their own reason to exist.

“They are finding themselves flatfooted in terms of their reception by the public of The Bahamas, and they’re trying to repurpose their party.

“They have been rejected by the people of The Bahamas, and I suspect that unless they look critically at their fundamental flaws, they will continue to be rejected by the people of The Bahamas.”

Minnis said, “The PLP can ask for anything. That’s their job. They are opposition.

“They are to oppose everything with sense. But I’ll display that some things they say do not have sense.

“So for those who listen to us on Friday, they would hear.”

The prime minister is set to address a Free National Movement event in Grand Bahama tomorrow.

PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis called for the resignations or dismissal of the ministers after the acquittal of Smith, who is a former PLP Senator and Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) chairman.

“I call today on the ministers to do the right thing, according to the conventions of the constitution,” Davis said on February 3.

“Failing to do, the prime minister must act.”

Smith was charged in 2017 with abusing his position as chairman of the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) after the award of a $516,000 contract to Barbara Hanna, the owner of Magic Touch Cleaning, to clean the critical care unit of Princess Margaret Hospital.

In her ruling on the matter, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt decried the “egregious” conduct of both ministers.

Ferguson-Pratt found: “There is not a scintilla of evidence to support the fact that there was a meeting between Barbara Hanna and the accused prior to the award of the contract.”

During the course of the case it was revealed that Sands awarded a second contract of $1.8 million to Hanna, three months after Smith was charged.

Ferguson-Pratt said the circumstances of the contract raised a “specter of impropriety”.

It was also revealed that Dames met with Hanna before she made an official complaint to police.

The magistrate said that this meeting with the complainant was “unorthodox, to say the least”.

Smith’s attorneys made a no case submission to the court.

Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller and Centreville MP Reece Chipman have called for “fair treatment” on the matter.

Speaking in the House, Miller said, “On June 19 of last year, some three of us, honorable members of this house, were fired. Mr Speaker, I accepted whatever the consequences were for my act.”

Miller continued, “I simply ask that the same manner in which we were treated under Westminster, that other persons, if in fact, it happened, would be treated in like manner.”

The PLP is boycotting Parliament over the “judicial condemnation” of Sands and Dames.

“They ought to, in the face of this finding of an abuse of the administration of justice, resign or be dismissed,” PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell said.

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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