The National, Tuesday July 28th, 2015
By MALUM NALU and LAZARUS BIRA
CABINET Minister Francis Awesa says his leadership tribunal case was a “trivial” matter which should not have been brought up by the Ombudsman Commission and wasted public funds.
The tribunal yesterday cleared him of allegations that he had “illegally erected a fence at his property in Port Moresby, thus restricting access and causing disharmony and difficulty to the public from July 2007 to March 2013”. The commission viewed it as an alleged misconduct in office.
Awesa, the Imbonggu MP and Minister for Works and Implementation, said he had gone through unnecessary strife in the past four months, with his name and reputation dragged to the bottom of the barrel.
He however praised the judicial system in the country.
“We have the best judicial system in the world. When we are talking about corruption, negative issues in Papua New Guinea, one of the shining lights in our country is the judiciary,” he said.
“At the outset, my case was a trivial issue because I built this fence in 2005, got the necessary approvals from the NCDC Physical Planning, Lands Department, and the whole due process.
“It was a temporary fence that was done to protect neighbours in the area as a lot of criminal activities were taking place.
“They approached me and I applied for the temporary fence to be erected.
“It’s not a leadership issue as I was not a leader at that time.
“We are dealing with some unscrupulous foreigners who come here, fly-by-night, who want to destroy the credibility of good people and citizens of this country. This has to stop.”
Awesa took a swipe at the Ombudsman Commission.
“The Ombudsman Commission as we knew in the past is not the same anymore,” he said.
“Their integrity has been destroyed over the last few years because they’re going over trivial cases like my case.
“My case has cost the State K2 million through Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ombudsman Commission – money that could be well spent on education, health, roads and all other essential services.
“It’s a wasteful exercise, and while I know the importance of that organisation, I want them to account.”
The tribunal, chaired by Justice Goodwin Poole with senior magistrates Mark Selefkaru and Earnest Wilmot, made the ruling after considering all the evidence against Awesa.
Poole said the fence was erected at Awesa’s premises and he was permitted by the National Capital District Commission to do so. But the permit had a clerical error where a different allotment and portion number were stated.
“The wall was not blocking a public access,” Poole said.
He said Awesa was not a MP at the time the fence was put up.