Probe into land deal continues


Investigations into the Manumanu land deal by Government agencies will continue, says Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
He said this in Parliament on Friday when tabling a report on the administrative inquiry into the Manumanu land issue.
Copies of the report and accompanying statements by the Solicitor-General were not made available to the media on Friday.
“The inquiry recommends further investigations to be underta-ken by appropriate State agencies,” O’Neill said. “The administrative inquiry found evidence that processes were not followed in some cases.
“These processes of implementation of Government decisions to relocate the army facilities, and especially the valuation and determination of the land, and of course the operation of the Department of Lands and Physical Planning and its oversight, need to be fully investigated.
“This is necessary because all the files into the land portions went missing at some stage, and at some stage it needs to be investigated further.
“Following the establishment of the administrative inquiry, the National Executive Council suspended a number of department heads in the transactions.
“The Government has now received this particular report, and the only way to conclude is that this report be tabled and referred to Government agencies to deal with its recommendations.”
In March 2017, the NEC made the decision to appoint an independent inquiry team to investigate serious allegations related to the Manumanu land issue and report back to Government.
“A former law lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea, John Griffin, QC, was appointed as chairman of that administrative inquiry,” O’Neill said.
He explained that the Government could not appoint a full Commission of Inquiry because the Commission of Inquiry Act itself was the subject of a Supreme Court reference, which was pending determination at that time.
“There were some practical problems which included getting people who were implicated to cooperate with the investigation. That is why it took some time for me to table this report in Parliament.”