The National, Thursday, April 28, 2011
By RIGGO NANGAN
Bulolo member of parliament Sam Basil has welcomed a defamation suit by Morobe Governor Luther Wenge but hopes that in the process, the plight of the people of the Watut River system will not be forgotten.
He said while the rift was between the governor and him, it would be the people who would suffer at the end of the day from the effects of the mining activities.
“So I call on him to go ahead with his legal action but he must join me in fighting for the rights of our people,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Wenge announced on Tuesday that he had filed a K1 million suit against Basil for alleged defamation and false accusation.
Basil said the name-calling came from the crowd who were frustrated with the absence of the governor, Huon Gulf MP and Minister for HIV/AIDS Sasa Zibe and Wampar LLG president Peter Namus from a forum organised by the Union of Watut River Communities in Lae last week.
As for the financial reports he obtained from the provincial treasury office, he said they were public documents and anyone had a right to access them.
He said the financial reports showed that more than K800,000 in public funds was paid by the provincial government to law firm Steele Lawyers for allegedly looking after the governor’s interest.
Basil said a lawyer had already been engaged to initiate legal action against the Hidden Valley gold mine operator while Morobean mining toxicologist Gama Gamato would carry out tests for chemical deposition in the river system.
He said Gamato started last week.
Basil said the fight was not to close the operations of Morobe Mining Joint Ventures but to make the company responsible for the damage caused along the Watut riverine.