Enquiry: Dudus, drama, colour
The events leading up to May 24, 2010 regarding the president, Michael Christopher Coke, aka 'Dudus', as the country in West Kingston, known as Tivoli Gardens, is being shown on air.
This nation was caught up in a series of events from late 2009 up to the present. The events were triggered by the request to extradite Dudus to face the judicial system in the Southern District of New York, USA. There was to be a political fallout as Dudus was alleged to be the enforcement muscle for the then ruling Jamaica Labour Party. This said party formed the Government in the 2009-2010 period.
The evidence offered by the then prime minister leaves one with the clear impression that he feared the reaction to follow the execution of the arrest warrant and forced a convenient argument regarding the constitutional rights of citizens, specifically Dudus', were in danger of being breached. The shenanigans that unfolded to 'protect rights' was the subject of a previous commission of enquiry - Manatt.
It is this current enquiry that now displays what happened upon the issuance of the warrant for Dudus to be arrested for subsequent extradition to the USA. This has provided a window to the following observation. The threat to the sovereign state of Jamaica was much more extensive than the public was led to believe. This was an all-island threat by mobilised forces loyal to Dudus. Imagine men in boats on the harbour and men armed in the outlying parishes.
Twenty-six persons were killed in St Catherine alone on May 24, 2010. The Jamaica Defence Force having to mobilise hundreds of combat soldiers, hundreds of fully battle-ready soldiers. This was, for all intents, a war.
The lawyers who are in full adversarial mode may quibble whether it was a war against the civilians in Tivoli Gardens. Stretch your imagination for a moment to consider if the combined forces of the JDF and the JCF were undermanned on May 24, 2010 what outcome would have occurred. The combatants from Tivoli Gardens were deadly serious. They attacked the State by burning police stations and killing security personnel. The combatants set up barricades to deny entry into their territory. They prepared fortified positions for battle.
The extent of the complicity at work with Dudus is evidenced by his reaction on being provided information within minutes of meetings between the heads of the JCF and the JDF with the then prime minister and the minister of national security. He left his Upper St Andrew residence and fled to his fortified headquarters in Tivoli Gardens.
One of the questions that is unlikely to ever be answered is, who tipped off Dudus?
FROM SOFT ARREST TO WAR
The sovereign state of Jamaica needs to know who 'colted' the game for purposes as yet undeclared. This sole act put the country in greater jeopardy.
The commission of enquiry is chaired by Sir David Simmons, a non-Jamaican who proclaims himself to be a regionalist. He may yet advance the sense of regionalism if the report is of the high standard by which he daily conducts himself. He comes across as very knowledgeable and true to the terms of reference for the commission. Firm and yet fair. At this point of first impressions, I find the choice to have been a good one. His reasonable interventions and rulings with the ease of comfortable banter strike the right chord.
The witnesses have been representative of society at large. There are those persons who have had to live through the war and have now formed hard positions, whether supported by facts and circumstances or not. Persons who feel entitled.
We have also had characters most akin to puppet masters, court jesters and mouthpieces parroting sentences, well -rehearsed. We have heard the others who speak with pride of a mission well undertaken and successful because of their expertise. We have also heard of those who were not very enlightening in the manner that they conveyed what little they knew.
There are those who would be adversarial purely to provide theatre. They seek 'face time on television'. They bellow but do not enlighten. Their self-importance is paramount. There are those who come across as generally seeking truth. They are concerned with the who, what, when, where and how. The why is to be determined.
It is most worthy of note that those on whom this sovereign nation relies in large part for its security and well-being are so young. As was said, the discipline of the JDF is attributable to the fact that the personnel respond to rank. I wish every young person could serve a period of conscription to the army.