By HELEN TARAWA
LUTHER Sipison, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning Secretary, has been suspended over allegations of mismanagement in office.
Four months after he was reinstated by a court on a previous suspension, the National Executive Council in a recent decision directed that he be suspended.
Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae in the National Gazette dated July 20 stated that the suspension was effective from July 5. Deputy secretary Oswald Tolopa will be acting in the position for three months from that date.
Department of Personnel Management acting Secretary Taies Sansan in a letter to Sipison dated July 20, advised him of the NEC directive on his suspension “to allow investigations to be conducted into 16 allegations” against him.
“An investigation committee has been established to investigate the allegations. The conditions of your suspension is that you are required to cooperate with the secretary, Department of Personnel Management, and the committee in the conduct of the investigations,” Sansan said in the letter.
“I have also been advised that you have gone ahead and suspended three senior officers from the department knowing full well that your HR powers have been removed by me.
“The suspension of these officers are of no legal effect.”
Efforts yesterday to get a comment from Sipison were unsuccessful.
Lands and Physical Planning Minister Justin Tkatchenko, said he looked forward to working with Tolopa, who was acting secretary when Sipison was suspended previously over allegations relating to the Manumanu land deal.
Tkatchenko said he would not tolerate any instability in the department which must “get on with the job”.
Details of the 16 allegations of misconduct in office against Sipison have not been disclosed.
Previously, the investigation on Sipison was undertaken by the Ombudsman Commission and the Public Service department. It was stopped when he was suspended previously, and resumed when he was reinstated as department secretary by the court four months ago.
According to the National Executive Concil decision, Sipison was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. However, the response was not satisfactory and he was suspended.