The National, Friday July 26th, 2013
By MALUM NALU
A GROUP of Defence Force officers yesterday called for the immediate removal of commander Brig Gen Francis Agwi and Taurama Barracks commanding officer Stanley Benny.
This followed the recent rampage at the University of PNG’s school of medicine by rogue soldiers from Taurama Barracks.
The officers, in a detailed document provided to The National, said Agwi should be removed because he had not provided sound leadership, resulting in a complete breakdown in discipline within the PNGDF.
They said Agwi had deliberately misled Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Defence Minister Fabian Pok by publicly stating last week that all previous major misconduct cases by PNGDF personnel had been dealt with.
The officers urged the Defence Council to immediately remove Benny from Taurama Barracks to allow for an independent and impartial investigation to be conducted into the medical school incident and other incidents involving soldiers from the barracks.
They said the medical school incident had brought them great shame and they had been ostracised by the public because of the behaviour of a few rogue soldiers.
“We condemn the actions of these few rogue soldiers, criminals in military outfit, and we sincerely apologise to the medical students at the UPNG Taurama campus, the UPNG security guards, and the general public who were victims of these soldiers’ criminal and uncivilised acts,” the officers said.
“We want to let the people of this country know that we, the majority of the PNGDF troops, are professionals and disciplined soldiers.
“Unfortunately, a few bad soldiers over the years have brought this situation into disrepute, and we will not sit back and allow this to happen.”
They pointed out a litany of incidents under Agwi’s command which had brought shame to the PNGDF, including:
- The standoff between soldiers from Igam Barracks in Lae and Guard Dog security guards in Sept 2010;
- The Manu Autoport incident in May 2011 where troops from Taurama Barracks fired shots and destroyed the service station;
- The misappropriation case in 2011 where two senior officers fraudulently used K1.3 million after the money was mistakenly transferred from the Finance Department into the officers’ mess account;
- The Shooters’ nightclub incident in Oct 2012, where soldiers from Murray Barracks closed down the club and demanded compensation of K30,000 for the assault of an officer by a club bouncer;
- The Malaoro supermarket incident in April 2013, where Taurama Barracks soldiers ransacked the shop in retaliation for one of their colleagues being assaulted by an Asian, resulting in the shop and nearby market being closed for several days;
- The Boroko police station incident in June where troops from Taurama Barracks swept through the station and threatened to assault policemen in retaliation over allegations that one of their colleagues was assaulted by an off-duty policeman; and
- The medical school incident.