By Marcia Braveboy
Caribbean News Now Senior Correspondent
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Former FIFA vice president and national security minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Jack Warner, is being forced to surrender yet another privilege; this time he is to give up his diplomatic passport.
In a statement, Warner said: “At 1:05 pm today, Thursday July 18, 2013, I received a call from the acting chief immigration officer, Mr Keith Sampson. The ag chief immigration officer (CIO) called to inform me that on the instructions of the government, I am to immediately return my diplomatic passport.”
This is the latest turn of events in what is now a heated battle between the government and Warner’s former United National Congress (UNC) colleagues for re-election as the member of parliament for Chaguanas West.
Warner said the CIO seemed mortified about the instruction to revoke his diplomatic passport. “Mr Sampson, who sounded embarrassed to make the request, agreed to give me a one week facility that would allow me to transfer my 10-year US visa on to my regular passport, after which it would then be immediately returned.”
He recalled that, under the former Patrick Manning-led People’s National Movement government, his political rival was kinder to him.
“I recall in 2007 when I was elected as a member of parliament in the UNC opposition, on my own volition I offered up my diplomatic passport to Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who dignified his office by returning it to me indicating that it was not necessary. My response to Mr Manning then was that you are not so bad after all,” Warner said.
“Fast forward to six years later and this government of which I was an integral part has asked that I return the diplomatic passport,” he said.
The political leader of the newly formed Independent Liberal Party said he not fazed by the move by the government. Not only will Warner surrender his diplomatic passport, but his wife’s as well.
“I therefore wish to assure the government that not only will I return the diplomatic passport issued in my name, but also the one issued in my wife’s name, before close of business on Wednesday July 24, 2013,” Warner stated.
Warner said he got information that persons he recommended for bus route passes have also been dealt the same fate, as requests are being made for those persons to return their passes.
Warner, who was the former minister of works and transport, was cut down in a realigning of ministries, when Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar stripped him of the transport ministry and gave it to Devant Maharaj. Warner was then made minister of works and infrastructure.
Warner would later prove himself a formidable force to reckon with and won the chairmanship of the UNC in the party’s internal elections in 2012. He was then later elevated to the national security post to help curb crime in Trinidad and Tobago. Warner was reportedly entrusted with the position as he was seen as the most hard-working minister who got things done.