A former teacher who is waiting for the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration to pay him as the court has ordered has accused Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of “hypocrisy” in his pursuit of monies awarded to him in a lawsuit against NICE Radio.
The Ralph Gonsalves government has been ordered to pay dismissed public servant, Otto Sam, all the monies he would have earned had he not been fired in 2013 — after 33 years of service to the nation.
In a ruling handed down in October 2016, High Court judge, Justice Esco Henry ordered Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan to ensure that Sam, receives full pay from the time he was suspended in 2012, with all benefits and full pension.
Sam was awarded costs and damages, both of which will be assessed in due course, his lawyer, Jomo Thomas, had said after the ruling.
But speaking at a St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union press conference on Tuesday, Sam said that the government is yet to honour the court’s decision.
He, however, pointed out that at the same time, Gonsalves has gone to court to compel NICE Radio to pay him money awarded to him as a result of a defamation suit.
“The comparison I like to use is that the state is bigger than anybody. The state does not abide by the law,” Sam said.
Sam further pointed to the approach of the government to collect from residents of the Grenadines the environment levy for garbage collection that they had not paid to the government for years.
“I remember hearing the minister of legal affairs on radio demanding that they should pay and why they should pay. It’s all reasonable; if you use the service to pay for it,” Sam said.
“And, the Minister of Legal Affairs, happens to be the Honourable Prime Minister, and it so happens that in my case and in a number of other cases, the court makes a ruling and the same state, with the same Minister of Legal Affairs, with the same Attorney General, who ought to be the executive and act as the executive, would defy the court and we wonder why there is so much lawlessness in this country. Because if those to whom much is given do not obey the law, then what do we expect of the common man? And it is just sad where we are going,” Sam said.
Sam said that the same law that demands that Grenadine residents pay for the service is the same law that dictates that the government should honour the rulings of the court.
“The state needs to become responsible,” Sam said.
NICE Radio is attempting to raise some EC$220,000 the court ordered it to pay Gonsalves for defamation.
Gonsalves’ lawyers have moved to collect the sum and have applied for the station to be liquidated.
Kay Bacchus Baptiste, a lawyer for NICE Radio said that the station paid Gonsalves through his lawyer EC$100,000 last week.
When the matter came up for hearing in court on Monday, it was adjourned to a date to be fixed by the registrar, in consultation with both parties.
Bacchus-Baptiste told iWitness News that one of Gonsalves’ lawyers had agreed for the hearing to be adjourned to at least October.
She said the station is hoping to pay the remainder of the money before then, noting that the monies paid so far have come from donations by the public.
Sam said that Gonsalves’ push to collect his court awards from NICE Radio is “just hypocrisy”.
“It is just hypocrisy and double standard because here are you, in other cases that the state is ordered to pay or to honour the ruling of the court, the same person heads cabinet — it is not a road gang worker, you know — it is our prime minister, who does not honour the court, but in another length, for himself, he demands that the court act a particular way and has been doing it over the years,” Sam said.
“So, it’s simply is not fair, it is not reasonable, it is hypocritical. And the nation should rise up and say this is wrong. Even if you a member of the party, nothing is wrong with that. Even if you are a beneficiary, you simply say this is wrong, because this generation and the next generation may be lost because they do not know right from wrong because we have stopped saying it,” he told the media.