No knowledge that security footage was being monitored
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Dr Josh Kanhai, showing the COI commissioners where officers had blocked off the stairway leading to the GECOM chairman's office. (Adrian Narine photos)
Dr Josh Kanhai, showing the COI commissioners where officers had blocked off the stairway leading to the GECOM chairman's office. (Adrian Narine photos)

-Elections CoI hears during visit to Ashmin’s building

ALTHOUGH security cameras were installed in and around the tabulation room at the former GECOM command centre, no one seems to know who was monitoring them.

According to a Department of Public Information (DPI) newsletter, former tabulations supervisor, Aneal Giddings, and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Edgar Thomas, on Monday, disclosed that there was no designated area to monitor the footage from the cameras.

The two were among those who accompanied the members of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on a tour of the Ashmin’s building where the command centre was located in March 2020.

“The tabulation room in particular was heavily surveilled. The cameras were actually in the room, on the walls and ceiling, and there were maybe two cameras on the ceiling just outside of the tabulation centre,” Giddings was quoted as saying.

When asked whether there was a room designated for security personnel to monitor the footage, he responded, “I was not aware of that.”

According to the DPI, Thomas added, “I was not responsible for monitoring any activity in the building. From my knowledge, the police were not monitoring anything either.”

Giddings, Thomas and Dr Josh Kanhai, repeated parts of their testimony during the tour and answered numerous questions.

The men walked the CoI’s Chairman, Stanley John and commissioners — former Chancellor, Carl Singh and Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith — through the events that unfolded in the three-storey building.

Edgar Thomas, explains the events of March 5, 2020 to the commissioners and Senior Counsel Sophia Chote

When the group arrived at the location, the main entrance was closed. The only available access was through the backdoor. The rooms inside were empty, dusty and poorly lit.

Kanhai showed the commissioners where everything was laid out at the centre, including the tabulation room which was on the ground floor.

He pointed to a nearby empty room that once housed the area where data clerk, Enrique Livan, was seen with a flash drive, that reportedly had the tabulation figures, along with da computer.

Livan eventually returned to the tabulation room after he was allegedly seen tampering with the contents of the flash drive on a computer.

Kanhai recalled that on March 5, 2022, Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo had attempted to make a false declaration from the stairway connecting the ground floor to the first floor.

However, this was met with objection by another politician, which caused police officers to block the stairway to the second floor where the office of GECOM Chairman, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, was located.

He recalled that the room, which was locked, was guarded by heavily armed police officers. The chairman had complained of feeling unwell but the ranks barred the EMTs from entering the room.

According to Kanhai, the door was so secured that he had to “push” and “kick” it until it broke open.

The room led into another smaller room where he saw the chairman sitting on a couch with then-Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), Roxanne Myers.

Kanhai told the commissioners that he was pulled out of the room by police officers as he attempted to ascertain the chairman’s safety.

He said he was dragged out of the room by the ranks and taken to the Brickdam Police Station. He was later placed on bail but was never charged.

Meanwhile, Giddens showed the commissioners where the office of the then-Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, was located.

He took the commissioners to the second floor of the building where the other tabulation officers were situated.

Later, Thomas was asked by Senior Counsel Sophia Chote, of Trinidad and Tobago, to recount the events of March 5, 2020.

GECOM’s Information Technology Department Manager and former tabulations supervisor, Aneal Giddings, shows the commissioners the layout of the first floor

He recalled going to the GECOM chairwoman’s office on the second floor where there was a large crowd. Thomas said he escorted the chairman out of the building due to a report of a bomb scare.

He said he moved from room to room informing persons that there was a report of a bomb scare in the building.

During one of the CoI’s hearings, GECOM’s Chief Security, Ronald Stuart, provided intimate details of how the now infamous bomb threat was designed to remove party agents from witnessing the tabulation process for Region Four.

Stuart had testified that he was summoned to Ashmin’s building by Myers to get everyone out of the tabulation room because they were interfering with Mingo’s work.
Stuart had said he saw no proof of the alleged interference and, therefore, refused to carry out the task assigned.

However, 15 minutes later two male ranks entered the building and identified themselves as being from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Guyana Police Force. They informed him that a bomb was planted in the building. This was later proven to be a hoax.

Based on Stuart’s recollection, members of the Tactical Services Unit (TSU) and Special Branch Unit were there to evict persons from the tabulation room. Thomas had said that he never called for their assistance.

During Monday’s visit, Thomas told the commissioners that he spoke to a junior officer, who was there giving instructions and he reminded him (the junior rank) that he was the senior officer-in-charge. However, Thomas said the junior officer ignored him.

Thomas said that on the following day, March 6, 2020, when he returned to the location and saw barricades surrounding the area, he indicated that that instruction did not come from him.

Thomas was later re-assigned by the GPF’s ‘top brass’.

Thomas had told the CoI that the reassignment was not one for his rank and noted that he was provided with no accommodations to work.

However, it was not until August 2020 that Thomas was promoted and became head of the Presidential Guard when the administration changed.

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