Yesterday the FIFA Ethics Committee suspended Jack Warner for one month pending “full investigation” of bribery allegations brought against Warner by one of his colleagues, CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer. Also suspended for one month was fellow FIFA Executive Committee Member Sheik Mohammed Bin Hammam, who is President of the Asian Football Confederation.
The issue of importance to us in Trinidad and Tobago therefore, goes well beyond FIFA ethics and suspensions. Jack Warner is a Cabinet minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and the fact that he has been suspended from FIFA on an ethics violation brings into question his suitability to continue serving in Cabinet while on this charge. And indeed beyond the resolution of this charge should he be found guilty.
We believe that Jack Warner, has no choice but to step down from office in the Government and await the results of this investigation which is a very great scandal and embarrassment to Trinidad and Tobago. And if he does not do so, the Prime Minister must relieve him of his duties. We cannot have a situation where a senior Cabinet minister of this country has been charged with bribery. We believe that Mr Warner must do the correct thing and not leave it to the Prime Minister to dismiss him.
The deep irony of the situation is that he is clearly one of the best performing Cabinet ministers this country has ever seen. And this is certainly not the opinion of this newspaper alone. Every single opinion poll in the past year has resoundingly supported this position. His absence, or worse, his departure, will leave a vacuum in the operations of the Government that will not be easy to fill.
This development is a major blow for the Government which only some weeks ago had to remove another Cabinet minister for breaching the Integrity in Public Life Act. The Warner issue is far worse, and we await developments, but one thing is clear, and that is, that Mr Warner has no choice but to demit office.