Court ‘misled’ in Toka land deal

National, Normal


THE Commission of Inquiry into the Finance Department yesterday heard that the National Court was “misled” to believe that Toka Enterprise Limited was wrongfully disadvantaged when it, in fact, did not hold any title to a large portion of land in Waigani when it awarded more than K27 million in damages last June.
The CoI also heard the land mass in question, which came in four parts, had two of them owned by
two churches while another had conflicting interests by the National Broadcasting Corporation, which had radio transmissions at the site before Independence.
However, when court proceedings were instituted against the Lands and Physical Planning Department and the State in 2007, not all parties were invited to be parties in the proceedings.
Counsel assisting the CoI Stephen Kassman, submitted to the CoI hearing yesterday: “You led the court to believe that no other parties had interests in the matter.”
But Mr Toka and lawyer John Goava denied this until Mr Kassman read the court transcript which said when the court had asked him as counsel to Toka Enterprises if there were any interest parties in the matter, he said “there are no conflicting interests”, which translated to that there were none.
He said despite this, and there being interested parties such as NBC and the churches (Evangelical church of Manus and the church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints) held titles to their portions of land (lot 9 and 11), the court had not been made aware of this.
The land in question concerns a claim by Toka Enterprises (TEL) against the State, minister and secretary for Lands and Physical Planning, in which TEL obtained orders for the title in respect of to a lease and damages in the sum of K27,784,536 (in OS No 240 of 2007).
Prior to that court proceedings, the TEL had filled forms with the Lands Department in 1989 seeking to acquire this land.
However, the land title had not been granted due to discrepancies which lasted for more than 18 years.
Yesterday, Mr Toka appeared and admitted he had engaged six lawyers before his recent engagement of John Goava, mainly to pursue and ensure the Lands Department granted him the title to the land he had applied for in the 1980s, known then as portion 2126.
He said the other lawyers were unsuccessful in his last bid and he engaged Mr Goava, who had under his instructions, proceeded to seek for damages for not being granted the title to a five years lease that he claimed he had been granted for portion 2126.