Yama wins K15.5m court battle

National, Normal


THE Supreme Court has thrown out a special reference by Justice secretary Dr Lawrence Kalinoe on former politician Peter Yama’s K15.5 million payout  claim, saying the reference had not been properly brought before the court.
The decision of the five-man bench of Justices Bernard Sakora, Salatiel Lenalia, Panuel Mogish, David Cannings and Sao Gabi was unanimous yesterday in upholding the objections of competency from Yama’s lawyer Ben Lomai.
The bench dismissed the special reference as incompetent.
It noted that then attorney-general Dr Allan Marat had made a considered decision that Yama’s Madang land dispute be settled by agreeing to a consent order, which was endorsed by the National Court on April 15 this year.
“How can it properly be, then, that a little over a month after the National Court resolved the matter – by an order requiring  the parties, including the state to “forthwith give a full effect and meaning to the purpose and intent of the deed of settlement, dated Nov 28, 2002” – the AG can seek to challenge the constitutionality of the deed of settlement through a section 19 reference?” Sakora asked.
This ruling, effectively means that the state could now pay Yama K15.5 million, owed since 2002 when he signed a deed of settlement for that amount with then solicitor-general Zachary Gelu (on behalf of the state).
Yama had sued for K38.69 million in 2002 for a portion of land (allotment 38 section 68) in Madang claiming that the state and Lands Department had deprived him from developing his land.
Outside court, an elated Yama said: “I have followed the due process of the court system, right up to the highest court of the land, to be granted the justice I have fought for with patience since being granted my land in Madang in 1988.”