Ellis has made his presence felt

Letters, Normal

IN the 1980s, there were two policemen who were based in Wabag, Enga.
Chimbu sons Ben Okoro was the commander of the mobile squad and Buckley Iarume was the provincial police commander.
At that time, tribal fighting was at its worse and it was left to the two men to move into the fighting areas and put a stop to the war and establish peace.
Engans loved to talk about the exploits of the two men and how they performed their duties under difficult conditions.
They used to compare Okoro with (former Fijian prime minister Sitiveni) Rabuka’s mustache and how Okoro would walk into the warring zone armed only with a small axe that had a very long handle.
He would carefully select a spot overlooking the battle ground where he and his men would sit and look at the battle below.
He would allow the warriors to go at each other for two or three days and then he would get up and shout at the top of his voice down to the men below.
They said he would tell the warriors that they had their fight and it was time to face the state.
When he finished talking, he would give a war cry, swinging his axe wildly and run downhill with his men into the battle.
They said all hell would break loose as the warriors would scatter and the fighting would stop there and then.
Likewise, the late Iarume left his mark in Enga for his no-nonsense approach when dealing with lawbreakers.
He was tough but many appreciated his actions.
They spoke of their experience at the Wabag police station later.
What I want to say is that when they were posted out of Enga, there was big outcry with many community leaders calling on the police force to leave the two men alone in Wabag.
The leaders felt that they had done a lot to bring an end to tribal fighting.
Ordinary Papua New Guineans generally fear the police and the courts.
And it is not often when they come out and speak highly of these law enforcers but when they do, they do it from their hearts because they can feel the impact of their work.
It is in this vein that hundreds turned out in Wabag last Friday.
Leading them were women, all covered in mud to show their grief, leading a peaceful protest march to the Wabag National Court to petition the National Judicial Service to leave their resident judge Justice Graham Ellis alone in Wabag.
The protest march came about when news spread that Ellis was being transferred out of Wabag.
The protesters did not want him to go because in their words, Ellis had done a lot to instill discipline in the men, and he had made a big impact in stopping tribal fighting and crime through the rulings he handed down on cases before him.
It is true that the courts have the power to deter crime.
It is in the way the magistrates and judges deal with matters before them and the rulings they make.
While the rulings serve to imprison or make the crime suspects pay, these judgments also serve as deterrents to potential wrongdoers.
And Ellis has proven this beyond reasonable doubt in Enga, a province known for its tribal fighting and killings.


Alphonse Pongy Nicholas
Via email