CHIEF-OF-STAFF of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier George Lewis, has vehemently denied the force’s involvement in the removal on Friday, of persons working at the Red House, located at High Street, Kingston, Georgetown.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on his Facebook page said on Friday, “the PNC sent army ranks to remove the people working in Red House.” However, Brigadier Lewis made it clear that no rank of the Guyana Defence Force received instructions to go to the Red House or moreover remove persons or articles from the building which housed the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre.
“GDF was not part of the operation; we had no role to play…we did not deploy any ranks in support of the operation,” said the Chief-of-Staff.
He told the Guyana Chronicle on Saturday that he is unable to state why the Opposition Leader would make such a statement on social media.
“I don’t know the thinking of [the] Opposition Leader, but what I can comment on is that the GDF had no rank deployed under that operation of Red House.”
Earlier in the week, President David Granger revoked a 99-year lease of the property granted under the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) administration in 2012. The President also gave the occupants of the Red House until Saturday, December 31, 2016, to remove from the Kingston property used mainly by the PPP/C. The President announced that the National Trust of Guyana will be housed at the Kingston location.
However on Friday, Conservatory Orders were sought by Chairman of the Management Committee of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Inc., Hydar Ally, to restrain or prevent the government from taking possession of the Red House which has housed the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Inc, but government had already taken possession of the building once the lease was cancelled.
Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards ruled that the items stored in the building must not be removed or destroyed by the state.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader on his Facebook page said the People’s National Congress (PNC) “revoked the legal lease for Red House without cause and gave the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre 48 hours to vacate; the PNC agents invaded Red House and locked the gates and broke down the sign within 24 hours…we are back to the 70s and 80s with the dictatorship of the PNC.”
But while the Opposition Leader lashed out at the PNC, the APNU+AFC coalition government of which the PNC is a part, has maintained that the lease of the Red House, a heritage site, was void.
Government argued that Section 13 of the Deeds Registry Act, states inter alia that no lease of immovable property expressed to be for a term of 21 years or more shall be good, valid or effectual in law or pleadable in any Court of Justice in Guyana, unless passed and executed before the Court in like manner as a transport and filed as of record in the registry.
Section 13 (3) provides that every long lease mentioned in subsection (1) passed and executed before the Court and filed as of record in the Registry shall be annotated by the Registrar against the property leased.
Section 13 (2) provides that failure to file the lease of immovable property as of record in the Registry renders it not, “good, valid or effectual in law or pleadable in any Court of Justice in Guyana.”
Moreover, government maintains that the lease is void on the grounds that Section 10 (1) of the Lands Department Act chapter 59:01 Laws of Guyana provides Government Lands shall only be rented or sold with the sanction of the President and on the terms and conditions determined by him.
Section 4 of the State Lands Act, Chapter 62:01, states that whenever the President deems it convenient any State Lands could be converted into Government Lands and he may issue a grant of those lands to the Commissioner and his successors in office for and on behalf of the State as Government Lands.