The Shadow Minister says, Mr Montague must be sanctioned for this reckless undertaking that could have added fuel to the raging fire of murders in which the island is engulfed.
“Twenty nine times Mr Montague deliberately went against expert advice and possibly empowered persons with criminal intent,” Mr Jackson said.
He said further that the current Security Minister needs to immediately establish an independent audit of these 29 cases and overturn the decisions, as he did in the revocation of the used car policy.
In the case of the so-called ‘national security asset', the former security minister’s explanation that he granted the licence because that individual was so deemed is nothing but hogwash.
“Mr Montague knew that based on all the intelligence available to him that this man was an alleged gang leader and lottery scammer, whose application was rejected by the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) and the Review Panel. He also knew that the police had a mountain of information on this individual in relation to a number of investigations. Therefore, the explanation that this person was a “national security asset” was simply an invention to justify the unethical use of power to grant him and others firearm licenses,” Mr Jackson said.
“This is another example of this government bypassing established systems to create channels to deliver what they desire, even if it is not in the interest of the Jamaican people,” Mr Jackson said.
The Shadow Minister of National Security says, there are questions for Mr Montague to answer. Wouldn’t the so-called “national security asset” be known to the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), and wouldn't his “valuable” information be decrypted for national security purposes? On whose advice did the Minister rely to uphold or overturn the decisions of the legally constituted bodies of the State?
The Firearm Licensing Act establishes the Review Board to advise the Minister on Appeals. That body upheld the FLA’s decision not to grant the individual a gun licence. However, it appears that in order to bypass the established process, the former minister concocted the classification of “national security asset” to make it easier for him to grant firearm and ammunition licenses to persons of questionable character deemed associated with criminal activities.
There is an ongoing investigation by the Major Organized and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) in the operations of the FLA, stemming from allegations of the sale of gun licenses to criminals, which caused the resignation of the Board of Directors and the dismissal of several employees.
With murders and shootings, being two serious challenges facing our country, it is unthinkable that any responsible minister of the government would even consider, much less grant someone of questionable character the privilege to own a firearm. Under the laws of Jamaica, a firearm license is not a right, but a privilege granted by the State on behalf of the all Jamaicans.
Mr Montague took over the portfolio in March 2016 and went on to preside over the highest increases in murders and shootings in Jamaica in recent years. We had expected that his foremost concern would have been the immediate reduction in all the possible contributing factors to the escalating crime wave but, like most Jamaicans, we were mistaken.
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