Recruits sent packing

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PRIME Minister James Marape has ordered acting chief of the PNG Defence Force Commodore Philip Polewara to send home the remaining 188 recruits immediately from the training depot.
Marape, acting as the Defence Minister, also ordered Defence secretary John Akipe to appoint an external investigator to investigate allegations of bribery in the recruitment process.
He said such allegations were tarnishing the Defence Force’s image.
Marape, soon after PNGDF chief of training Col Dickers Esso removed 166 recruits last Tuesday for fraudulently enlisting in the army, wrote to Cmdre Polewara to remove the remaining 188 recruits at the Goldie River Training Depot.
“I am quite concerned about the situation (last Tuesday’s public removal of 166 recruits) at the Goldie River Training Depot and the conditions of the recruits concerned,” he said.
“It is clear to me that this issue is not new to the PNGDF and has been ongoing for over a decade.”
Meanwhile, Chief of PNGDF Maj-Gen Gilbert Toropo could not be reached for a comment as he is out of the country.
Earlier, Col Esso said “the discovery of a tuberculosis (TB)-infected recruit prompted an investigation to determine how 354 recruits enlisted in the military”.
“So they underwent further medical checks and the verification of their education qualifications with the help of the Education Department’s Measurement Services Unit,” he said.
“That’s when we discovered that 101 had failed their second medical test, 38 were over the required recruitment (26) age and 28 were ghost names, meaning that they didn’t come through the normal recruitment process and somehow ended up at the Goldie River Training Depot.”