Kutubu leaders bashed in courthouse

National, Normal

TWO Kutubu leaders were bashed allegedly by rival landowners in the precincts of the National and Supreme courthouse in Waigani yesterday.
The two leaders, Sese Vege and Asi Ibusubu, of the Foe tribe, had flown in from their village and gone to court to stop any development funds (memorandum of agreement and special support grant funds) being paid to a group led by former Southern Highlands governor Hami Yawari.
The duo maintained that Mr Yawari was no longer in charge of the Foe Resources Association, and could not lay claim to any funds paid on orders by the court.
But Mr Vege and Mr Ibusubu were beaten up by angry tribesmen armed with knives and stones at the Waigani courthouse.
Mr Yawari had gone to court seeking outstanding payments of MoA and SSG funds, which the court had already given directions for the State to settle.
The State through the Department of Petroleum and Energy was in court again yesterday, where the court directed that outstanding funds be paid before any development forum in Kutubu.
Angry Kutubu landowners and hangers-on, who were aligned with Mr Yawari, attacked the two men.
Police and security personnel had to be called in to restore order.
Mr Yawari said after the melee that the landowners supported his move to seek outstanding MoA and SSG funds before the development forum took place.
“Why do you want to disturb?
“There will be no forum in Kutubu until all outstanding monies are paid,” Mr Yawari said.
“These two people are trying to stop that and the people are calling murder.
“The Government must pay instead of using divide and rule game against its own people.”
Mr Yawari said he was happy that the court had realised the aspirations of long suffering landowners and had directed that they be paid.
The court yesterday said that the State should pay outstanding funds because the gas project was important and landowners must be happy.