Sir Rodney passed the buck to MP Benjamin, but UPP says Commission of Inquiry needed now, more than ever

The Leadership of the United Progressive Party (UPP) reports that, once again, it was snubbed by Governor-General Sir Rodney Williams after a delegation met with him on the Antigua Airways/ West African migrants saga.

Six weeks ago, Opposition and Political Leader Jamale Pringle and two colleagues met with Sir Rodney to share national concerns and ask for a commission of inquiry.

Shortly after, Pringle was informed that an investigation had been launched by Minister of National Security Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin and that Sir Rodney had forwarded the Party’s concerns to him.

However, Benjamin was not present at Thursday’s press conference to provide an update on his investigation, nor to address the boating tragedy in which three Africans died while reportedly on their way to St. Thomas.

UPP Public Relations Officer Damani Tabor says the proceedings of that press conference and the tragedy of the West Africans are a clear demonstration that a public inquiry is needed now, more than ever – and he encourages residents to sign the petition that calls on the Governor-General to institute one.

Tabor says the Party and the people of Antigua and Barbuda have no evidence that Minister Benjamin is engaged in any investigation with regard to the Antigua Airways and stranded West Africans saga.

The only investigation announced was by the Cabinet, which, about two weeks ago, said that an inquiry would be conducted by two international agencies: the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

According to Tabor, if another investigation is taking place, then why has Benjamin not said anything and why was he not a part of the press conference.

This is not the first time the Party has been refused by the Governor-General.

Four years ago, a call was made for an investigation into the shooting of Customs Officer Cornell Benjamin, who was ambushed at his home by gunmen, but survived a hail of bullets.

Nine months later, Benjamin’s colleague, Nigel Christian, was abducted from his McKinnons home and murdered.

Many feel that, had an investigation into the first incident been launched, it might have prevented the second shooting.

Since then, two female Customs employees have also been murdered – one alleged to be a domestic incident.