I have followed with some interest the goings-on surrounding charges laid against Adrian Gibson, the sitting FNM member of Parliament for Long Island, in relation to allegations of corruption connected to actions taken by him during his tenure as chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation of The Bahamas.
The government’s consultant at the Water and Sewerage Corporation and past MP for Long Island, Loretta Butler-Turner, expressed the view that while she acknowledges Gibson’s innocence until proven guilty, he ought to resign and focus on his legal troubles.
The prime minister, Philip Davis, said Gibson, having been charged in a court of law, ought to follow established convention; the suggestion being he ought to resign his seat in the House of Assembly.
I am not familiar with the “convention” to which dictates this.
A quick review of precedents that may inform the matter revealed the following: Firstly, William Cartwright, a founder of the Progressive Liberal Party, and the sitting PLP member of Parliament for Cat Island in 1956, was charged and convicted of crimes involving land schemes.
He was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. Cartwright resigned his seat in the House of Assembly only after his conviction.
Secondly, in 1976, the sitting PLP member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte, Earl Thompson, was charged in court with allegations of corruption connected to actions taken in relation to the purchase of the National Insurance Board Building on Farrington Road.
Thompson was acquitted of all charges. He never resigned his seat in the House of Assembly.
Finally, in 1989, another sitting PLP member of Parliament, Wilbert Moss, representing Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay, was charged and convicted of allegations of attempted bribery of a magistrate. Following his conviction, Moss resigned his seat in the House of Assembly.
It appears that unless there is a separate convention for FNMs, Bahamian “convention” dictates that Gibson continue to sit in Parliament until the resolution of his matter in the court. Thereafter, should he be found guilty, his resignation must follow.
— The Corrector