Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 27th 2014 Contents A5
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
'Life Sport troops' show strength...
"A figment of his imagination."
This is how Life Sport pro-
gramme director Cornelius Prince
yesterday described National
Security Minister Gary Griffith s
allegations that there was mis-
appropriation of funds under the
Sport Ministry-controlled pro-
Griffith also alleged the pro-
gramme was fraught with crim-
On Saturday, Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced
the programme would be reas-
signed to the National Security
Ministry and be put under the
management of the Defence Force.
Prince, who yesterday rallied his
"Life Sport troops" (participants)
at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva,
for a media conference, fired back
at the minister and declared that
the programme was above board
and openly welcomed any "inde-
pendent" probe into its operations.
Prince, in describing Griffith s
allegations as "scandalous" and
"unfounded," said an investigation
should be done by "any official
investigative or auditing body that
has not yet formulated any con-
clusions, real or imagined."
Griffith was quoted over the
weekend in an Express article
alleging several improprieties under
the programme, including the pay-
ment of some $18 million to Life
Sport Carapo co-ordinator Rajaee
Ali, a Jamaat-al-Muslimeen mem-
But Prince said the figures quot-
ed in the article were based on a
flawed supposition that one organ-
isation could be paid an "astro-
nomical, mind-boggling" sum of
$1.5 million monthly, totalling $18
"This is a figment of the Hon-
ourable National Security Minis-
ter s imagination and disseminated
by a media house who clearly
replaced journalistic integrity with
bacchanalia designs," he said.
Prince said had he been con-
tacted to respond to the minister s
allegations, he would have
"debunked this dangerous myth."
He said co-ordinators receive
$30,000 monthly, from which they
paid their staff and themselves,
which, he said, left them with
$13,000 to $17,000 a month for
their efforts, such as managing
staff, ensuring participant atten-
dance and identifying and imple-
menting community projects.
Prince also took issue with Grif-
fith s allegation that there were
ghost participants in the pro-
"Where are the ghosts? These
are the ghosts," he declared, point-
ing to the near-packed covered
section of the stadium.
That elicited cheers from the
young men, all of whom began to
chant: "Tell them no ghosts, no
ghosts, no ghosts."
Prince said the programme was
"not fuelling crime but keeping it
down." He said it was aimed at
at-risk youths and gave them an
opportunity to make better use of
He said over 21,000 youths were
part of the programme which
operated in communities from
Bagatelle to Siparia and had 40
Yesterday, Life Sport co-ordi-
nators and former national football
players Angus Eve, Wesley Webb
and Anthony Roget also came out
in support of the programme,
which they said was making a dif-
Roget, co-ordinator for La Brea,
sounded a warning to the author-
ities should they be considering
closing the programme.
"Every individual here has to
make sure the programme goes
on. Rest assured that they are not
going to cancel it but if they cancel
this programme it will have an
uproar in this country. I assure you
we will do that," Roget declared.
He said a lot of people believed
in the programme which had been
changing the lives of young men.
Participants, he said, were paid a
stipend of $1,500 a month, given
two meals and have to participate
in programmes that would help
them change their path in life.
Eve said the job was simple but
Sport Minister Anil Roberts, who
was on hand for the topping-off
ceremony of the National Velo-
drome Project, Couva, yesterday
welcomed the Life Sport pro-
gramme being moved to Nation-
al Security," he added.
(See Page A6}
on audit result
The current Finance Ministry probe
of the Life Sport programme will con-
firm whether or not there is any crim-
inal activity in the programme, says
National Security Minister Gary Grif-
He took that position yesterday, saying
he had no intentions of entering into
any "catfight" with Life Sport person-
nel.He responded following yesterday s
press conference by Life Sport officials
who, while welcoming the Prime Min-
ister s mandated audit of the programme,
took issue with some of Griffith s recent
reported statements on the issue and
defended the programme.
At last Saturday s People s Partnership
(PP) rally, Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar, acknowledging concerns
about the programme, said it was being
transferred from the Sport Ministry to
Griffith s National Security Ministry and
a Finance Ministry audit would be done.
Yesterday, Life Sport programme
director Cornelius Price referred to a
report quoting Griffith as saying there
were "ghost" participants in the pro-
Responding last night, Griffith said:
"I m not getting into any catfight over
this. I have much more important things
"But I wasn t aware this same person
(Price) is a police officer and is involved
in any investigations that he can verify
something before the investigation is
completed. We have the Finance Min-
istry doing the necessary audit and
investigations to take place.
"My job is to ensure the programme
can work at optimum level and if there
are any questionable activities or criminal
elements involved, my job is to root it
out. I cannot be involved in any petty
squabbling with persons who might
have their own agenda."
He reiterated he could in no way make
any confirmation of criminal activity
until the audit was completed.
Griffith said he was now finalising
details of how the Defence Force would
take over the programme with the Chief
of Defence Staff and ministry officials.
He said he also intended to work closely
with the Sport Ministry.
"Even though this project is an ini-
tiative to reduce crime, it still involves
a heavy concept of sport and we need
to ensure all relevant stakeholders have
an input to ensure not only crime reduc-
tion but also enhanced sport in T&T,"
Asked if he would involve current Life
Sport officials, he said: "We have no
intention of removing everyone involved
in Life Sport. Many can be of value and
can continue (but) the whole concept
is to ensure if there may be any criminal
activity that is to be removed and that
can only be confirmed when the audit
"For somebody working there (Life
Sport) to say it is not true is totally irrel-
evant to me. People will want to keep
their jobs so I may need a little more
reliable information than what is coming
from someone who is working directly
on the programme.
If criminal gang activity is confirmed
in the probe? Griffith added: "...Then
let the chips fall where they may."
Anil confirms two
meetings with Prakash
Sports Minister Anil Roberts yes-
terday confirmed he had met with
Congress of the People political leader
Prakash Ramadhar on two occasions
in the last three days.
However, he declined to divulge the
details of the meetings with his political
Roberts was summoned to the meet-
ings with Ramadhar after a controversial
video surfaced showing a man, believed
to be a government minister, rolling a
marijuana cigarette with two women in
a hotel room.
Roberts has neither confirmed nor
denied that the man in the video is him.
Yesterday, Roberts, who was on hand
for the ceremonial "topping off" of the
final steel beam on the national velo-
drome in Couva, told reporters the con-
troversial video was now in the hands
of his lawyers.
The minister, who was accompanied
by his wife Shandell, said he would not
be distracted from his duties.
"I will not be distracted by video,
music video or voodoo, understand. You
are seeing projects here and seeing the
People s Partnership delivering like never
before, you are seeing that Dr Keith
Rowley, who has been described as
Mugabe, cannot answer who are his
friends and investors," he said.
Roberts said the Government was
heading into election year and he would
not be distracted by anything.
The minister, who did not mince
words, said he was prepared to take a
drug test if (Rowley) was ready to take
a DNA paternity test.
"I am ready to take any drug test,
any test in front of all of you," he said.
Roberts also welcomed Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar s decision to
remove the Life Sport programme from
his ministry and place it under the
He added: "The scrutiny is very good.
Once you are involved in public funds
and programmes, scrutiny is fantastic.
"There is a probe from Ministry of
Finance. I welcome the probe. This is
what it is about, nothing is wrong with
"Everybody is entitled to information
but we must always be clear that factual
information must be given, especially
by members of my beloved media."
Micheal Greenidge, of the Carapo Life Sport Centre, performs his composition, Life Sport, during a press
conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, yesterday. Life Sport programme director Cornelius Price
(inset) defended the programme and welcomed an audit of its operations during the event. PHOTO: ABRAHAM
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