Friday 14 August, 2020

'Hogwash': Fitz Jackson slams Montague's gun licence explanation

Fitz Jackson (left) and Robert Montague

Fitz Jackson (left) and Robert Montague

Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Fitz Jackson has described as “hogwash” and an "invention" the explanation offered by former National Security Minister Robert Montague as to why he overruled the recommendations of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) and other security authorities in granting a gun licence to a man of questionable character.

Jackson also wants Montague, who is now the Minister of Transport and Mining in the Andrew Holness-led Cabinet, to be sanctioned for his actions.

The shadow spokesman, in a release on Saturday, said Montague should be sanctioned for what he described as “this reckless undertaking that could have added fuel to the raging fire of murders in which the island is engulfed.”

According to Jackson, Montague, who had a torrid run as national security minister, went against expert advice 29 times and possibly empowered persons with criminal intent.

He said the current Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang should immediately establish an independent audit of these 29 cases where persons were granted gun permits on appeal and overturn the decisions.

Montague in a hastily called press briefing on Friday following a television news report about his role in reversing the FLA’s decision after the man in question had his appeal overturned twice, stated that the individual was a “national security asset”.

But that did not sit well with Jackson who described the explanation offered as “nothing but hogwash.”

According to Jackson, “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 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.

“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," Jackson added.

The People’s National Party spokesman had several questions for Montague.

“Wouldn’t the so-called ‘national security asset’ be known to the National Intelligence Bureau and wouldn't his ‘valuable’ information be decrypted for national security purposes?" he asked.

He also questioned, “On whose advice did the Minister rely to uphold or overturn the decisions of the legally constituted bodies of the State?”

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