NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The man who blew the whistle on alleged corruption in Abaco will have to produce evidence to police or apologize.
During a town hall meeting for displaced Abaconians earlier this week, Ian Goodfellow, of 25 United, detailed corruption hampering relief efforts on the storm-ravaged island.
Eyewitness News understands the matter has been reported to police.
Minnis told reporters yesterday that he instructed Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson to probe the matter.
“If he cannot present such evidence and if he’s just talking blindly then he needs to apologize to the Bahamian people,” Minnis said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis yesterday suggested legal action could follow if the “reckless” claim could not be supported by evidence.
At the town meeting, Goodfellow pointed to one particular instance where he claimed an NGO requested a meeting with the government to discuss the rebuilding of Cooper’s Town School.
However, Goodfellow said that NGO was told, ‘if you bring a suitcase with $30,000 you can have that meeting’.
He did not indicate who requested the money.
Lewis, who was present at the meeting, urged Goodfellow to report the incident and allow him to address the issue.
“Any other minister would have gotten up,” Lewis told Eyewitness News yesterday.
“And I had one of my senior government officials walk out.”
Lewis said if Goodfellow is unable to produce the evidence to support the claim, “an official complaint may be filed against him”.
“We have to look into that,” Lewis said.
“It’s a very serious allegation; very, very, very serious.
“And he must bring the information forward. If you say that, validate it. Bring it to us.
“If someone is sitting on the side of me and they are corrupt, then I need to know that and make a decision.”
Lewis said the claims are besmirching the reputation of the country and the government is taking it “very seriously”.
“We have to, it’s a must,” he said.
In the lead up to the 2017 General Election, the Minnis administration ran on an anti-corruption platform.
Soon after coming into office, several former Cabinet ministers and senior government officials were hauled before the courts.
The government also introduced anticorruption legislation that have since bene stalled.
Hurricane Dorian barreled into Grand Bahama and Abaco in early September, packing maximum sustained winds at 185, gusts over 220 mph and storm surges 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels.
In the aftermath of the storm, dozens of international and local non-governmental organizations provided aid and continues to provide aid to those impacted by the storm.