Businessman Jerry Brisbane has said that he was shaken by the level of security which surrounded him during his journey in and out of the prime minister’s office this morning where he presented a petition asking for the removal of Minister for National Security, Immigration and Labour Charles Savarin.
A delegation led by the businessman presented the petition document containing nearly 4,000 signatures to President Nicholas Liverpool in Morne Bruce and then to the prime minister’s secretary at the Financial Centre in Roseau.
This petition is asking for Savarin’s removal for calling on the public via a radio programme last month to boycott Brisbane’s company, OD Brisbane & Sons after Brisbane sent letters to international organisations expressing issues with Dominica’s use of aid money.
“I was told clearly that I alone will be the one allowed to go up to the prime minister’s office to present the petition to his secretary. I went up to the office and presented the petition to his secretary who received it on his behalf and signed…” he told media after coming out of the Financial Center.
“I then was escorted. Well I must say, never in my life have I had so much security around me. I felt a lot more insecure than secure I will say that, than being secured… to meet with his secretary and then from there secured again to come back down. I’m not going to give numbers like people did; there were maybe too many to count,” he stated.
Brisbane added: “But the point is this, when I see a small state like Dominica reach in this stage it really frightens me….seeing the level of security that was employed on a peaceful mission like this it’s very frightening to me, I think at this point in time in this country. And it should be also very frightening for the citizens of this country.”
The businessman said however, he saw no guns on the officers.
“I saw no guns by anybody outside but I would not expect any security person along the way to had not had some form of defence. I am not going to say for sure I saw guns. I did not see guns but obviously I would expect that the security were armed,” he said.
“My blood is rising, it is. I am trying to keep myself calm because when I experience these kinds of things it is going to get any human being like myself, who is a very peaceful person, you know to be aroused and I was quite aroused at the reception that I got,” he added.
Speaking to journalists after delivering the petition to the president earlier this morning, Brisbane described the handing-over as “cordial” and “well received”.
Brisbane said the brief occasion involved the exchange of greetings and pleasantries with the president and his delegation.
The businessman was among seven persons who visited the President’s Office to deliver the petitions. Brisbane said only four persons including himself were allowed to enter the office.
The seven-person delegation included attorney Singoalla Blomquist-Williams, journalist Carlisle Jno-Baptiste, farmer Randy Aaron, Pastor Matthew Auguiste, OD Brisbane’s longest-serving employee Cuthbert Joseph, among others.
Apart from Brisbane’s delegation, a group of about 10 media personnel and several SSU officers, no other persons were present at what Brisbane said was a “peaceful” event.
Brisbane told media that the president did not indicate that there would be any undertaking as a result of his petition.
“Well the president is head of state and obviously the 4,000-plus petitioners is a significant percentage of the adult population in Dominica. And we said to the president, the petition is requesting – and I say requesting because we can’t do anything else – there’s nothing else we can demand I guess from the president, other than I expect that he would consider the request,” he said.
“Well the point about it is this, I would think that the prime minister and the president would wait to receive the petition first before any instructions are given… There was no response from the president as to what they are gonna decide to do. The only response was a cordial exchange of words,” he said.
Before leaving for the prime minister’s office, Brisbane said that his delegation did not receive any official confirmation from the prime minister that he would receive the delegation this morning, but the prime minister ‘s office did not indicate they would not have received them.
Brisbane said that there are no plans for protest or how he will proceed with the matter after the petitions are delivered. “I will take one day at a time,” he stated.
“I saw this as a responsibility and a job. I think I have pulled it to the best of my ability and we’ll see what happens from there,” he told reporters.
He encouraged the prime minister and the president to take petitions seriously.
No other member of the delegation was allowed to accompany Brisbane to the prime minister’s secretary.
Brisbane later made a correction that there were actually 3,938 signatories on the petition after a final tally. He had initially said that there were a few additional signatures which had not been finalized this morning.