- Posted On January 12, 2020
… dodges CID ranks on “torching” threat to Guyana Times/Evening News/TVGGovernment Advisor on Culture, Ruel Johnson, is wanted by the Police for questioning in relation to threats he made to “torch” the Sanata Complex, which houses most prominently, the Guyana Times newspaper, Television Guyana (TVG) and Radio Guyana Inc 89.5.Government Advisor on Culture, Ruel JohnsonCommander of A Division (Georgetown-East Bank Demerara) Clifton Hicken told Guyana Times that Police ranks visited Johnson’s office at the Education Ministry on Wednesday afternoon to haul him in for questioning, but he was not there. However, Johnson claimed to be in his office and on his Facebook page mocked “a senior Police Commander whose detectives apparently can’t find a fairly large man in a relatively small office.”Education Minister,Dr Rupert RoopnarineAlso Crime Chief Wendall Blanhum told this newspaper on Wednesday that an investigation has been launched into the matter following a report filed with the Police by the Head of Security of the media group.Blanhum explained that the security personnel will provide a statement on the incident after which other persons including Johnson will be questioned.Johnson, who is also a Director of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), which publishes the Chronicle, on Monday called for the torching of the Sanata Complex as a “united Guyanese protest”.Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine has already pledged to seek an explanation from his advisor about his threats as they are “not reflective of the Government or its views”.Asked to comment on the matter on Wednesday, President David Granger posited that the Education Minister already dealt with the Government advisor.However, Johnson took to social media boasting that Dr Roopnaraine did not engage him on the issue.Commander of A Division Clifton Hicken“I saw my boss last night after he came into office after a Cabinet meeting. He asked for his flash and I wished him happy birthday…,” he commented.On Monday, the Cultural Policy Advisor posted the comments on his social media page – which also included a call for the destruction of the recently implemented but controversial parking meters. He stated: “Here’s my idea for a united Guyanese protest against impunity and tenderpreneurship – go break down all the parking meters and then proceed to torch the Sanata complex.” Johnson explicitly made the connection between the Sanata Complex, QAII, its owner and the media group consisting of the Guyana Times newspaper, Television Guyana (TVG) and Radio Guyana Inc (89.5) which would all be torched.The Guyana Press Association (GPA) also weighed in on the matter. GPA President Neil Marks said such a serious allegation should be reported, adding that the organisation will wait for the outcome of any probe stemming from the report.In Chapter 8:01 of Guyana’s Criminal Law (Offences) Act, Title four, Section 35, the charge of ‘Attempt, incitement and threat’ applies to “Everyone who, in any case where no express provision is made by this Act, or by any other written law for the time being in force, for the punishment thereof, attempts to commit, or incites or attempts to incite any other person to commit any felony not punishable with imprisonment for seven years or more, or any misdemeanour, under this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and liable to imprisonment for one year.”In Section 36, the Act goes on to cite that in cases where the felony cited incurs imprisonment of seven years or more, the act of incitement carries imprisonment for two years.According to the laws of Guyana, arson is an indictable offence usually carrying a minimum sentence of three years and a maximum of five years.This is not the first time that Johnson has made discriminatory and inciting comments on social media about provoking violence. In 2016, Johnson was lambasted by Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira for a similar outburst, and she called on Education Minister Roopnaraine to terminate Johnson’s contract.According to Teixeira, Johnson does not have an understanding of the role his position has in shaping society and is reckless in his statements. She had pointed out that the Constitution of Guyana speaks to the issue of anti-discrimination and noted that a person who holds the responsibilities of culture must be sensitive to Guyana’s multicultural nature.Meanwhile, only last year, East Bank Essequibo resident Bibi Safora Salim, who used social media to issue threatening and derogatory statements against President David Granger, was charged, placed on bail and then tried by the courts. Unlike that case, which was dismissed because there was no specific offence committed, according to the Magistrate, in this instance, incendiary threats to 5520 followers to “torch” specific premises presented a clear and present threat.Similarly, Tameshwar Beekham, a self-professed A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change supporter, was charged and fined after he issued death threats on social media against the life of former President and Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo and other parliamentarians of the People’s Progressive Party.