By BURI GABI
CUSTOMS Commissioner Gary Juffa maintains that he is the current chairman of the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League after being elected by 16 affiliated league presidents at the annual general meeting on Nov 28 in Lae.
The faction under the chairmanship of Juffa and his deputy Bryan Kramer denied claims by the presidents of Lae, Goroka and Port Moresby rugby league associations who said the meeting in Lae was illegal.
At a press conference yesterday, the board headed by Juffa dismissed recent media statements and publicity denying his election and supporting the former chairman Albert Veratau.
According to Juffa, these were efforts to distract the fans and stakeholders about real issues of governance that face the PNGRFL and merely efforts to protect self-interests by certain interest groups.
Juffa said that legal clarification sought had confirmed that his election at the annual general meeting was in order and he was prepared to take this to court should it come to that.“I am amazed that certain interest groups are attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of PNG in regards to the national sport of PNG with their theatrics and rhetoric supporting Mr Veratau who had resign and didn’t attempt to make it to the AGM,” Juffa said.
He stated that there were serious issues facing the greatest game of all in the country and rugby league is not owned by certain people but it is for everyone. But they were issues of mismanagement.
The chairman elect together with his board Bryan Kramer and Lohia Samuel in the press conference maintained that it was through a legal election and Juffa is the legitimate chairman of the umbrella body of rugby league in PNG.
“After having perused reports about state of PNGRFL there was strong evidence of poor management of assets, misapplication of funds and no financial controls and there was clear evidence that large amounts of funds had not been acquitted and could not be accounted for,” Juffa added.
Kramer also clarified his reasons behind his resignation on the eve of Pacific Cup last November after citing irregularities in PNGRFL’s operations and notified the board at the time under Mr Veratau.
Amongst other things Kramer cited the fact that no acquittals or financial reports were furnished by the office of the chairman during 2008 and this year to properly account for the large sums of money injected into the sport from sponsors and the Government.
He also pointed out that the PNGRFL constitution used by the majority of affiliates was the 1993 version while the one used by the PNGRFL board and certain affiliates was one amended in 2008 but without a proper quorum required by the PNGRFL to do so.
He said it was therefore another unsanctioned and unconstitutional change which threw the actions of the board into question.
According to Kramer at the time of the AGM he was still the part of the board as the required one month waiting period for a member who has resigned had not elapsed which allowed him to head the meeting.
Chairman Veratau and his Deputy Eric Kuman were not present at that meeting but, Ivan Ravu acting on behalf of Veratau called off the meeting to a later date because a lack of quorum however presidents of affiliated leagues went ahead with the meeting.
Meanwhile, the three president who called the press conference on Sunday, have appealed to the all the affiliated leagues to PNGRFL to work together with board that is headed by Veratau.
The National’s attempts to get comments from Mr Veratau yesterday were unsuccessful.