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By Newsday Reporter Monday, June 30 2014
An open invitation is being extended to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and all politicians, including Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley, to visit the Carapo Life Sport project which has featured prominently in the crosstalk of illegal activity in the entire programme.
The invitation comes from residents and Supervisor of the Project, Devon Cummings, who yesterday dismissed any wrongdoing in the project, and heaped praises on Sport Minister, Anil Roberts, and Life Sport as a whole for bringing relief to what he described as the depressed Carapo Community.
The invitation to visit even includes Diego Martin East Member of Parliament, Colm Imbert, who was severely critical of the Life Sport programme as he moved a motion in the House of Representatives seeking censure against Roberts over the operations of Life Sport.
Cummings lashed out at Imbert for comments made in a private motion that the life sport programme had been facilitating criminals and that one main criminal had been hired to a top post in the life scheme although he had a history of charges against him, including one for murder. The Diego Martin North/East MP also charged that this criminal hired at the life sport programme was in charge of 250 armed men in “a militia” that has been financed by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
But Cummings and the Carapo residents want the politicians to come to the depressed community and see for themselves before forming opinions which they say have so far been proven to be wrong.
“Thank God for the Life Sport Programme and thank God for Anil Roberts,” was Cummings’ cry yesterday as he took Newsday on a tour of the Al Islamia Jumma Masjid and its precincts which have become central to the controversy surrounding the programme. He said he knew who Imbert had been referring to, but denied there was any truth to the MP’s allegations.
Cummings’ denial that no militia existed in the area was also confirmed by regular police visits, which had become a routine in all the depressed areas in the country. In fact the mosque where the Life Sport coordinator and community leader Rajaee Ali conducts his prayer session is an incomplete 30 x 20 feet structure that has been glorified by many who have not seen it.
The windows to the structure as well as the ceiling are incomplete and workmen appeared to have just finished a 4x4 foot-toilet in front of the building which has replaced the portable ones that were situated on the roadside.
The floor inside the mosque was covered with vinyl which appeared to be there from inception. Two large pieces of carpets also covered a portion of the entrance and the pulpit area, where there was also a shelf with the Qurans and other books. In the south-western corner was a huge stack of mattresses used by devotees during prayers.
Cummings said the mosque has been under construction for the past two years and has only picked up because of the Life Sport programme.
“If the coordinator of the Carapo Life Sport project had been getting $1.5 million a month as reported in the media, do you think our mosque would have been incomplete?” he questioned. Cummings told Newsday, “I have worked in the trenches for then PNM MP Karen Nunez Tesheira and I can tell you that it is only because Roberts has come to the people of the area and has seen what our lives are like on a daily basis, that we have ever received anything....So I say thanks to minister Roberts and to his Life Sport initiative.”
“Through minister Roberts the people in Carapo, for the first time ever, have received houses and a means of making a living from the stipends ($1,500) from the Life Sport programme,” Cummings added. “We are dependent on this programme. We have been given something for our young people to be involved in, so I am begging the Prime Minister, Imbert, Rowley and Griffith (Minister of National Security) among others to come and see for themselves,” Cummings said.
Cummings said before the Life Sport project the Carapo Muslim community had received only one contract to build a box drain. That contract, he said, was given to Ali himself at a cost of just over $100,000. Cummings assured that the people in Carapo are a praying people and not criminals as they had been labelled.
Quizzed on whether the murder of Curtis Gibson (personal security for Deputy Sports Director Ruth Marchan) had anything to do with the Life Sport programme Cummings said no.
“He was one of us,” Cummings said. “He lived with us and fellowshipped at the mosque in Carapo. We know him to be an employee of the PTSC.”
Cummings said his brother Rajaee Ali is not a man of war but rather a man of peace.
“He works ten times harder than any politician in TT to ensure that there is peace in the Carapo area and peace in the land,” Cummings said.