Former Clerk of the House Maurice Tynes
The saga involving Adrian Gibson continues to resonate throughout the country.
Much of the commentary surrounding the saga has been centred around whether Gibson ought to resign his seat as the member of Parliament for Long Island.
Gibson has been charged with some 56 serious criminal counts, all related to his tenure as chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation, and all of which fall under the broad umbrella of corruption.
Now, these criminal corruption charges are amazing, having regard to the fact that prior to the start of his official political career, Gibson wrote a column in the Tribune under the by-line “Young Man’s View”.
Much of the content of his columns was aimed at the prevalence of crime and corruption in the country.
As it related to corruption, his commentary was mostly directed at the Christie administration.
His weekly columns were probably the main reason he was chosen as a candidate for the Free National Movement (FNM) in the 2017 general election. But that is speculation on my part.
What is not speculation is that Gibson has not resigned his seat in the House of Assembly and it seems he has no intention of doing so.
There are no constitutional or legal requirements for him to do so.
However, the sitting member for Long Island finds himself in quite a quandary.
It appears as if the Office of Public Prosecutions is going after Gibson in a way similar to how the United States Justice Department goes after major crime bosses; take down the co-defendants, reach a plea bargain with them and use their evidence and testimony against the crime boss.
Already, one of Gibson’s co-defendants has pled guilty and has agreed to testify against him.
Should Gibson resign his seat? I say an emphatic, “Yes!”
Gibson seems bolstered in his decision not to resign by the intrigue and disunity within his political party.
Michael Pintard, leader of the opposition, made the normal innocuous statement that Gibson is a member in good standing with the FNM and that he is an active and important member of their parliamentary caucus.
There is a theory being bandied about that says that the leadership in the party wants him to remain as a member of Parliament to prevent any move by Dr. Duane Sands to run for the seat in Long Island should it be vacated sometime in the future.
I hope this is not the case as I believe that the traditions and dignity of Bahamian Parliament and of the Westminster system are too important to be diminished in this way.
Gibson is absolutely entitled to be presumed innocent until and unless he is proven guilty.
Clearly missing from our constitutional and legislative regime is a procedure for the House to suspend a member if criminally charged in the courts.
In the United Kingdom, the political party is empowered to suspend one of its members for such alleged transgressions.
I would recommend that the government, after consultation with the opposition, introduce and pass legislation that empowers the speaker after a majority vote in the House to suspend, without pay, a member who refuses to resign his seat after criminal charges have been brought against him.
The suspension should last until the matter has been resolved in the courts.
The legislation should also recommend the matter to be given priority in the court as constituents should not be left without representation in the House indefinitely.
— Maurice Tynes