By JEFFREY ELAPA
PNG Party leader Belden Namah has urged the Supreme Court, Public Prosecutor and the Ombudsman Commission to speed up the referral process of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and Public Enterprises Arthur Somare, both on alleged misconduct charges.
Namah said the referral of the two by the Ombudsman Commission (OC) was of public interest and the constitutional office holders were duty bound to ensure the cases were dealt with in a timely manner.
He said the people of Papua New Guinea expected speedier result of the court appeal by Sir Michael to stop the OC from investigating his alleged misconduct charges relating to declaration of annual returns.
Namah said the matter involving Sir Michael and Somare were of national interest and the people of PNG were entitled to get a decision sooner.
He said the case involving the prime minister went before the High Court in 2008.
“Why has it taken the Supreme Court so long? The public is becoming suspicious. It is in the Supreme Court’s interest to bolster the public confidence in the High Court,” he said in a statement.
The OC alleged that Sir Michael failed to lodge annual returns for the periods 1994/-95, 1995-96 and 1996-97, his lodgement returns for the periods 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2003-04 and incomplete statements for periods 1992-93, 1993-94, 1997-98, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03.
The OC referred the prime minister to the Public Prosecutor for it to ask the chief justice to appoint a leadership tribunal to deal with the allegations, but Sir Michael went to court seeking orders to stop the OC from investigating him.
On June 24, 2008, National Court judge Justice Derek Hartshorn rejected an application by Sir Michael for a temporary injunction to stop the OC from investigating him and ruled that it was not in the interest of the justice of the general public that lawful authorities should be prevented from performing their legal and constitutional duties.
However, on June 30, 2008, Sir Michael, through his lawyers, filed their appeal matter in the Supreme Court to be heard that afternoon.
The PM’s lawyers filed a notice of appeal basically appealing the whole of the judgment by Hartshorn in dismissing their notice of motion, in which the Supreme Court was yet to make a ruling of.
Namah said Somare was also alleged to be in trouble with the law and was referred by the Ombudsman Commission on Feb 28, 2006, to the Public Prosecutor for prosecution under the Leadership Code.
He was referred over allegation that he failed to give annual statements on time that he misapplied his district support grant (DSG) funds and allegedly failed to acquit these funds’ expenditure.
Namah said he was merely asking the Supreme Court, Public Prosecutors and the OC to perform their constitutional duties and roles speedily in the public interest.