Committee recommends termination of deal with Esso Highlands

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

AN independent investigation committee has recommended that a memorandum of understanding between police and Esso Highlands Ltd for security arrangements in the LNG project corridor be terminated.
The committee, in its final report to the national executive council, stated that the MoU had impinged on the independence of the Royal PNG Constabulary.
Cabinet had set up the independent committee to investigate the suspension of former police commissioner Gari Baki.
Baki was alleged to have misled the prime minister and NEC into approving a K10 million allocation for police operations in the LNG project areas.
The investigators found that the MoU was not vetted by the attorney-general and state solicitor’s office. It also did not go before the NEC.
“The MoU appears contrary to section 196 of the constitution and borders on direction and control of RPNGC,” the committee said in its report.
It said funding of police personnel’s per diem, accommodation, food and body armour by an organisation other than the constabulary appeared contrary to the constitution and seriously compromised the independence of the police force.
The report stated that the requirement by Esso Highlands that the constabulary, through the police commissioner, withdrew mobile squad personnel from their usual strategic locations around the country for deployment at the project sites bordered on direction and control in the administration and operations of the RPNGC and, therefore, was contrary to section 196 of the constitution.
Esso Highlands project manager Peter Graham informed the committee that the company had similar arrangements with two other countries, Nigeria and Angola, with PNG being the third.
However, the committee noted in its report that the two countries were in varying degrees of civil war, expressing grave concern that PNG had been lumped together in the same category.