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Hurry up with probes into scandal-hit FLA - NIA

Published:Friday | August 4, 2017 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson

The anti-corruption lobby group National Integrity Action (NIA) is calling for a speedy conclusion of investigation into the scandal-hit Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) after reports of the granting of gun permits to people of questionable character.

"The current investigations being carried out by the Office of the Contractor General, the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), and the Justice Seymour Panton-led FLA Review Board need to be thorough but speedily concluded," said executive director of the NIA, Professor Trevor Munroe.

He said once the probes are finished, "The public interest requires full disclosure of findings, particularly relating to the identities, dates and circumstances surrounding the granting of any firearms licences to persons with adverse intelligence traces."

The Dennis Wright-led FLA board resigned last Wednesday as public outrage intensified over the allegations that the FLA granted permits to alleged criminals and people on the police radar, including an activist of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party. MOCA is probing more than 100 licences alleged issued under questionable circumstances.




"Firearm licences determined in these investigations to have been unjustifiably or illegally issued should be promptly withdrawn and prosecutions given priority where there is evidence of persons, at whatever level in the FLA, having issued such licences in a corrupt or unlawful fashion," said Munroe.

In the meantime, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has said it is premature to call for the resignation of National Security Minister Robert Montague over the FLA scandal.

Opposition spokesman Peter Bunting has insisted that Prime Minister Andrew Holness should fire Montague, whom he accuses of being the "architect of the politicisation"of the board.

But PSOJ chief executive officer, Dennis Chung, said demanding Montague's resignation would require proof that the minister was aware of the actions of the FLA board.

"We have to make up our minds. At one point we say ministers must deal with policy, must take their hands out of operations, but then when something goes wrong with operations which they didn't know as much as we know because they are dealing with policy ... we ask them to resign. That doesn't make any sense," said Chung.