Mon | Nov 19, 2018

PM should fire Montague, says Jackson

Published:Wednesday | August 15, 2018 | 11:14 AM
Opposition Spokesperson on National Security Fitz Jackson - File photo

The People’s National Party’s (PNP) Shadow Minister of National Security Fitz Jackson is calling for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to fire Robert Montague, the current Minister of Transport and Mining and the former Minister of National Security, over his decision to empanel a special review body which granted 29 gun licenses.

Montague made the disclosure at a press conference on Friday where he defended his action.

The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) had rejected the applications reportedly on account of adverse traces during background checks.

The press conference came a day after Television Jamaica reported that Montague, as the then security minister, overturned a decision of the FLA and granted a gun licence to a man who the police said allegedly had ties to criminal activities.

READ: TVJ rejects Montague's criticisms

The gun permit has since been revoked.

In a statement, Jackson said that the PNP is concerned that Montague could have set up an ad hoc review panel which would be privy to secret and sensitive national security information.

He said the party also questions if he had the legal authority to establish the panel and is seeking legal advice on the issue.

The opposition spokesman further said that the party is very concerned as to how any character being reported on by the police as an individual with adverse traces could be described by Montague as a “national security asset”.

Jackson argued that Montague's action is tantamount to an abuse of power.

“The party considers the actions of the then Minister as reckless and a serious breach of protocol concerning national security.

“For all these transgressions, Minister Montague is clearly unfit for Cabinet membership and the Prime Minister ought to remove him from the Cabinet,” Jackson said.

Full Statement 

The People’s National Party’s (PNP) Shadow Minister of National Security, Fitz Jackson, M.P., says the party has sought legal advice in relation to the 29 gun license approvals, which former National Security Minister, Robert Montague, granted after they were rejected by the established Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) mechanisms on account of adverse traces. Mr Montague announced last week that a group of persons he empaneled to review the decisions of the Review Board of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) made the recommendations.

In a statement today, Mr. Jackson said there was no provision in law for the Minister to put together any ad hoc group to review the recommendations of a review board established by law and it was necessary for the PNP to be advised if the decisions allowing the appeals were ultra vires and therefore of no legal effect. PNP says this is tantamount to an abuse of power with very serious consequences for the nation’s security.  Mr. Jackson said there were several aspects of Minister Montague’s rebuttal of a TVJ News special investigative report that were troubling and needed to be reviewed and settled in Jamaica’s national security interest.

Mr. Jackson said Minister Montague needed to be transparent and to immediately disclose the names of the panel which he empowered to review recommendations the FLA’s legally constituted Review Board in respect of an appeal to the Minister.  He also called for the full disclosure of their terms of reference and specifically what was their status in being privy to secret and sensitive national security information and in particular reports of the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

The PNP Shadow Minister said the party considered the actions of the then Minister as reckless and a serious breach of protocol concerning national security. Mr Jackson said he was also very concerned as to how any character being reported on by the police as an individual with adverse traces could be described by the Minister of National Security as a “national security asset”, a term which is unknown in Jamaica’s national security architecture. “It is further compounded by the fact that in trying to save his own skin, Montague was apparently willing to make unauthorised disclosures to the RJR/Gleaner group”, Mr. Jackson said.

The PNP spokesman said for all these transgressions, Minister Montague is clearly unfit for Cabinet membership and the Prime Minister ought to remove him from the Cabinet. Mr. Jackson further said the entire firearm licensing process has now been further compromised and if the group is still in existence, the Prime Minister should immediately instruct the present Minister of National Security to immediately disband the group in order to restore credibility to the system and the FLA.

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