By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis has accused the Christie administration of being "out of their depth" in dealing with a crime situation he claims is sending the country "to hell".
Dr Minnis also criticised National Security Dr Bernard Nottage for being "continuously mute" in addressing the country's crime situation. He said the country is "going to smithereens, going to hell, while the government feels everything is still fine and dandy.”
Likewise, Bishop Simeon Hall said it is "depressing" that this year's murder count will likely outpace last year's tally.
The Pastor Emeritus of New Covenant Baptist Church said Dr Nottage should be motivated by the PLP's last campaign promises on crime and "the fact that there are many who will judge him on that performance”.
Bishop Hall also called for a "national war on illegal guns".
This year's murder count currently stands at 91, according to The Tribune's records.
As of August 12, 2014, the country had recorded 77 murders. The number reached the 100 mark in November.
"This shows that they (the PLP) are out of their depth in crime," Dr Minnis said yesterday. "They don't know what to do in spite of all their promises. One of the serious items affecting the Bahamas, and the prime minister, nobody, spoke on it during the budget debate. They're just hoping that they'll wake up one day and the whole thing goes away, and the public and everybody just goes mum and goes quiet on it.
"We're going for a new record, a new record under this PLP government who stated that they had the solution. Now if their solution is a new record it would be a great legacy for (Prime Minister Perry Christie) going in the record books. And at the same time when they set a new record, he, nor the Minister responsible for National Security spoke to the nation to give us an update. They continuously remain mute, silent."
Dr Minnis added: "They're in a different world believing that everything is fine and that the Bahamians would just say nothing and remain silent. This country is going to smithereens, going to hell, while they feel everything is still fine and dandy."
In the lead up to the May 2012 general election, the Christie administration campaigned on the promise to curb crime and control the outbreak of murders in the country.
In a move that sparked much backlash, the PLP posted billboards at several high traffic tourist areas of New Providence highlighting murder statistics. The billboards read, "Under the FNM government 490 plus murders."
Recent attempts by The Tribune to get Bain and Grant's Town MP Dr Nottage to comment on the state of crime - the latest amidst an anti-crime protest held in Rawson Square on Wednesday - have been unsuccessful.
Additionally, the 2015/2016 budget debate concluded without a contribution from Dr Nottage.
However, Mr Christie did say during his budget communication that the government has invested a "significant" amount of money in the Royal Bahamas Police Force to help it obtain additional power and resources to enhance its presence and visibility around New Providence.
When questioned on the matter yesterday, however, Bishop Hall said Dr Nottage's relative silence regarding the country's crime problems will bear no impact on how the public grades the government's handling of the matter.
"Silent or not I think many in the Bahamian society will judge the PLP by whether it can successfully put a dent in crime or not in the next election," Bishop Hall said. "I think that will be one of the major issues for Bahamians. So Minister Nottage needs to be motivated by the fact a major promise was made to the Bahamian people on crime before the last election and there are many who will judge him on that performance.
"The present trajectory on crime is overwhelming. We will pass last year's count unfortunately in spite of all the efforts the government has made and some civic minded people have tried to make."
Bishop Hall also called for a "national war against illegal guns".
"We should increase, we should double the penalty for the possession of illegal guns," he said. "We should double the penalty for anyone found bringing guns into this country.”
He added: "One of the problems we face is there are scores of Bahamians who are impervious to the sanctity of life and pay so very little attention to many of the anti crime pronouncements made. And I repeat myself by saying the fear in the community must be put into the hearts of those who are impervious to meaningful ways of living in our society. There are obviously some men and woman who should not be among civilized society. And again I say we need to put fear in the hearts of would be criminals.
The bloodiest months for the year so far have been February and July with 15 murders each, according to The Tribune's records, followed by May (14), March and April (12), and January (10).