It is now 494 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be revoked.
It was on June 24, 2013 that he was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.
O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.
In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:
“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”
In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said
“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”
“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people”
But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.
For 494 days O’Neill has failed to revoke the SABL leases and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.
Speaking in a press conference yesterday, Delilah Gore said she had no knowledge of the K17,000 payment that was made to the Grand Papua Hotel for accommodation expenses in the days leading up the Gary Juffa’s removal as Oro Governor. In the same breath, she pointed the finger of blame at Ijivitari MP David Arore.
“My department is in the clear,” she said. “I am not in any way involved contrary to what the Ivivitari MP, David Arore has claimed.”
But Gore’s statements come a day after evidence was posted on various news media websites that showed payments made by the Ministry of Community Development to the Grand Papua Hotel.
Sources close to Minister Gore confirm the legitimacy of the documents and the dates and purpose of the payments.
Yesterday, Governor Juffa blasted Gore over the payments stating that the K17,000 was used to accommodate and pay local level government presidents who plotted the vote of no confidence motion against him.
In a desperate attempt not to offend Juffa or Arore, Delilah Gore maintained she remained neutral in the turmoil despite her cozy association with David Arore during the vote of no confidence motion in Popondetta just days ago.
“My department has nothing to do with Oro politics and I want to clear our name in this.”
Governor Juffa meanwhile will be tendering those documents to fraud investigators in the coming days.
Nemo Yalo – Former Counsel to Ombudsman Commission, Former Acting National Court Judge
The power struggle in Northern Province offers a lesson to provincial governments nationwide. In that context the relevant laws discussed here should offer useful education. The political saga has kicked off with an alleged serious criminal offence – break and enter allegedly orchestrated by two MPs who are not members of the Oro Provincial Assembly. This writer is aware on credible information that the two MPs from Northern Province Delilah Gore and David Arore have, without any lawful excuse, failed to attend more than three scheduled Oro Provincial Assembly meetings notwithstanding that they each received due notice of those meetings.
Section 12 of the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-level Governments states in part that if a member of Parliament is absent, without leave of the Provincial Assembly, during three consecutive meetings of the Assembly, unless the Assembly waives this provision upon satisfactory reasons being given, the member shall cease to be a member of the Provincial Assembly. To date the Oro Provincial Assembly in a duly scheduled meeting has not waived the operation of Section 12 to allow both MPs to remain as members of the Assembly. So by automatic operation of a Constitutional Law they are not members of the Oro Provincial Assembly.
How David Arore and Delilah Gore being national leaders ignore the voice of the Constitutional Law at the behest of the voice of their hunger for political power not only contradicts the generally accepted standards of leadership and governance but also defeats the very highest law of the land they each swore unto the Bible (therefore unto God) to uphold and obey on the very first instance they each stepped onto the floor of Parliament. Mr Arore reportedly said his actions are democratic. Under which Constitution and under what system of government? With respect, the alleged conduct is the behavior of persons who have lost moral compass and who by their own conduct are announcing to the nation that they are no longer fit to be accorded the title “Honourable”, a word that goes with an honourable profession – politics.
Section 15 of the Organic Law which provides for the procedures of Provincial Assemblies states that the Provincial Governor shall preside at all meetings of the Provincial Assembly at which he is present. And if the Provincial Governor is not present then it must be because, as Section 14 says, he is on leave of absence, or absent from the province, or is out of speedy and effective communication, or is otherwise unable to perform, or is not readily available to perform the duties of his office. In that case the Deputy Governor shall perform the functions and responsibilities of the Governor as Chairman of the Provincial Assembly. Governor Juffa was and is not on leave. He was and is readily available to perform the functions and responsibilities as the Chairman of the Oro Provincial Assembly. This week he has been out of the province, however he has not been out of speedy and effective communication so he would have been notified if an urgent or special provincial assembly meeting was necessary.
Unlike the government in the National Parliament Provincial Governors and Deputy Governors are not protected by law by way of grace period prohibiting motion of no confidence brought against them for a certain period from the date they take office. They are subject to a motion of no confidence provided for by Section 20 of the Organic Law. A Provincial Assembly may by a two-thirds absolute majority voting on a motion, dismiss the Provincial Governor or Deputy Provincial Governor. The motion must be expressed to be a motion to dismiss the Governor or the Deputy Governor. A notice of the motion must be presented to the Clerk of the Assembly (although the Clerk is not expressly mentioned by law) not less than one week’s notice. The notice must be signed by not less than one quarter of the total number of seats in the assembly. The grounds for dismissal of the Governor or the Deputy Governor are: (1) deliberately and persistently frustrating or failing to comply with the resolutions of the Provincial Assembly, or (2) deliberately and persistently disobeying applicable laws, including the Constitution, an Organic Law or any national legislation applying in the province, or (3) is negligent in exercising his powers or performing his functions, duties and responsibilities, or (4) does an act that is or is likely to bring into disrepute or call into question the integrity of his office. For the purposes of the first two grounds the conduct of the Governor or the Deputy must be deliberate and not a genuine mistake and it must be persistent, meaning not a one-off conduct but is continuous or obstinate. If Governor Juffa has by his conduct satisfied any of the grounds he is, like everyone, subject to the law. But the law must be invoked properly by those who are proper members of Oro Provincial Assembly as recognized by the Constitutional Law.
When there is a successful motion of no confidence against the Governor, the next in line to replace him is any one of the MPs from the province unless they are not themselves disqualified or are dismissed from the assembly. In the case of Northern Province, both MPs are disqualified by automatic operation of law. David Arore chose not to be sworn in as a member of Oro Provincial Assembly together with his colleagues on the first occasion following the conclusion of the general elections for Local-level Governments (LLGs) in Northern Province. He showed no interest in providing leadership and governance through the Provincial Assembly. More than two years lapsed. Then on 20 September 2014 in a secret ceremony outside of the “Horukari Bande” (Oro Provincial Assembly) he decides to get sworn in as a member of the Assembly. So now he has interest for the province(?).
There is no specific time prescribed by law as to when a person gets sworn in as a member of a Provincial Assembly. However the Constitution at Section 249 says that every person who is subject to the Leadership Code, before taking office and entering upon the duties of exercising any powers of his office, shall be sworn into office. Then Section 15 of the Provincial Government Administration Act 1997 states that the “Provincial Assembly shall meet within 15 days of the day fixed for the return of the writs following a general election to Local-level Governments”. Therefore members of the Oro Provincial Assembly would have been sworn in within 15 days of the day fixed for the return of the writs following a general election to LLGs. That date would have been its first meeting. But prior to conducting their business they would have been sworn in first in accordance with Section 249 Constitution. If Mr Arore was not readily available at that point, then he could have taken steps to be sworn in at the next schedule meeting. But he chose stay away for two years and then to get sworn in at a secret ceremony outside the assembly only reveals his true intent.
As for the allegation that Delilah Gore spent K17,000 of her Department’s money for the purpose now subject of the saga being clearly a purpose not intended by law is a clear misapplication of public funds. If the allegation is true then she is no better than Governor Havila Kavo or Francis Potape both of whom were recently found guilty of similar crime by the National Court. In May 2010 a New South Wales Labor MP Mr David Campbell resigned when it the media revealed him using his Government car to visit a gay sauna in Sydney. On 16 April 2014 NSW Premier Barry O’Farrel resigned over revelation at an anti-corruption commission hearing that he received an A$3,000 (K6,709.00) bottle of wine from a Liberal Party fund-raiser. On 27 April 2014, Jung Hong-won Prime Minister of South Korea resigned from office following the sinking of MV Sewol on 16 April 2014 in which more than 300 people were killed. He did so not because he was responsible in any way but because he was the ‘ceremonial head’ of the government which was heavily criticized for slow response to the disaster. Here, Delilah Gore has voluntarily offered to mothers, women and children, the disabled and disadvantaged kids and all who fall under her ministerial portfolio 17,000 reasons for her resignation. If she does not then her government which announced to this nation from day one of taking office that it will offer ‘transparency and accountability’ to translate those words into action. Both Havila and Potape who are in government should resign too.
In a highly embarrassing twist to the Oro province power struggle, a drunk Ijiviari MP, David Arore, called in to Roger Hau’Ofa’s Talkback show today and screamed abuse at the Oro Governor, Gary Juffa while millions of Papua New Guineans were tuned in.
One listener described Arore’s conduct as both hilarious and disgraceful after one member of the mob in the background was heard using the “F” word.
Talk back host, Roger Hau’ofa was also verbally abused by the Ijiviatri MP. He was later forced to switch off the intoxicated member of parliament who “virtually screamed” at the radio host and the governor.
Without missing a beat, Gary Jufa, said: “…and that is the kind of alternative that Oro people have.”
It is also understood, the FM 100 signal was switched off in Popondetta from 10am onwards with no clear explanation.
Grand Chief Hon. Leo Dion, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Inter Government Relations
As the Minister responsible for Provincial Governments and Local-level Government matters, I am concerned about the events and a purported vote of no confidence against Hon. Garry Juffa MP, Governor for Oro Province by a disgruntled faction of the Provincial Assembly Members.
I am condemning these actions as it will set a very bad precedent and a threat to the unity and security of the nation. In any given situations the national interest and the collective interests of the people are paramount, thus must take priority over others, personal and parochial interests.
Let me remind all parties involved that the Office of the Provincial Governor in each Province is established by law and the Governors are duly elected by the people through the election process to represent them for the full term of Parliament, which is five years.
Just like any other Governors and political leaders in the country, Hon. Garry Juffa was elected by the people of Oro Province through exercising their constitutional rights and freedom of choice to represent them for the full term to deliver services and bring changes.
Therefore it is only fair and appropriate for the people (voters) themselves to assess performances and judge Hon. Garry Juffa upon the completion of his full term as their mandated and legitimate Governor.
There must be genuine reasons supported with facts and evidences that the majority of the people of Oro are being neglected of much needed services. These may warrant and justify the actions of the Provincial Assembly Members to put a Vote of No Confidence against the Governor.
According to the information provided, set legal processes and procedures were not followed when moving the vote of no confidence against Hon. Garry Juffa, thus he is still the legitimate Governor of the Oro Province.
The last thing I want to see as the Minister responsible is instability, disunity and political infightings that will do nothing good but destabilise the provincial government. These will inevitably result in derailing the development process and unnecessarily delaying the effective flow of services to the innocent people of Oro Province who deserve the best from their political leaders.
I am also warning the Heads of LLGs in the Oro Province who make up majority of the Provincial Assembly membership not to abuse your respective offices by taking sides or causing instability in the smooth operations and governance of the province.
I will send a fact finding team from my department and other relevant agencies to establish the issues affecting the Oro Provincial Governments, Provincial Administration and the Local-level Governments aimed at resolving the current issues and improving governance for the long term to effectively deliver services.
Finally as the Minister responsible, in these crucial times I am appealing for calm and urging all the political leaders from the Oro Province to put the differences aside and work together as a team by taking the opportunities provided through the allocation of huge development funds (PSIP, DSIP and LLGSIP) to develop the province for the betterment of the people.
I trust that maturity, understanding and common sense will prevail to resolve this issue for the common good of the people of Oro Province.
By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EMTV Online
The turn of events which saw the pugnacious takeover of Oro’s Provincial Assembly, appointment of a new assembly clerk and vote of no confidence against Governor Gary Juffa, led by Ijivitari MP, David Arore and Sohe MP, Delilah Gore and seven LLG Presidents has been deemed illegal by Juffa who claims that ‘the mob’ are being supported by the very Asian logging entities who he had stopped from further carrying out their illegal logging operations in the province.
It is alleged that the Arore and Gore-led group of LLG Presidents, were accompanied by persons paid by a Chinese-Malaysian logger, who had been logging the Musa-Pongani area. All logging activities by this particular logging company had been halted by Juffa, in a bid to put an end to illegal logging operation in the Oro Province.
Sources have also revealed that Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development and member for Sohe, Delilah Gore, had spent a substantial amount of money to cover the accommodation and allowances of the LLG presidents who travelled to Port Moresby with the intent to plan the staging of the ousting of Juffa, as was witnessed today in the provincial assembly building.
Extracts from Juffa’s “Papua New Guinea My Land My Country” dated 21 October, where he pens his thoughts on the matter, reveal information received through a said ‘informant’ who was able to provide Juffa with valuable ‘insider information’ for Juffa to make available to the public:
“Intelligence is the end product of analysed information/data. I have a system to collect and collate and present such intelligence to me so I can make informed decisions. […]
Our intelligence told us several things: that several weeks before the media stunt there were several meetings between certain Asian entities and the presidents and their open member. These Asians are heavily involved in the logging industry. […]
Our informant was in their very midst. He sighted them and heard them discussing their plans. They would stop at nothing to log our forests. The recent suspension by the Forest Minister after we had furnished his office an investigation report based on complaints of our landowners in the Yema Gaipa Timber Permit Area where illegal logging had been occurring at day and night was yet another catalyst. […]
Further intelligence deduced that the recent actions in the last month by the Land Enforcement to travel to Collingwood Bay and impound Logging Machines and give notice to foreign workers illegally there to vacate that property in 7 days has added to the desire by the logging fraternity to see me removed. Imagine what would happen if everyone rose up behind me and removed them? That is a frightening thought. They MUST stop this and nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. The people cannot be allowed to rise up and stand for their own rights they say to each other in between bales of illicit logging cash they make from our forests. […]
All this only added to growing anxiety that the illicit revenue stream of the pirates and their minions would come to an end. […]
Now add to this the recent Provincial Government reforms undertaken that have since seen the establishing of stringent controls to ensure transparent expenditure of public funds by all custodians including me. […]
This has suddenly exposed the Two Open Members [sic] who have been using their Joint District Planning and Budget Prioritization [sic] Committees as procurement authorities…which is illegal…the laws do not allow that…the JDPBPC is merely a committee to prioritize the disbursement of DSIP funds.
The process must come through the Administration for vetting, analysing, review and monitoring. I am pleased to see that we have changed the public service mindset in Oro and they are now well on track to deliver. I have asked that the Open Members MUST put their DSIP through this legitimate process as I am doing. […]
Meanwhile stringent efforts to tackle corruption continue. The great job undertaken by PPC Victor ISUOVE to analyse Auditor General Reports for the last so many years and act upon recommendations is well underway. […]
PPC Jacob SINGURA has continued with this effort and so far, 11 public servants have been criminally charged. Others are yet to follow. The Ijivitari District Treasury closed by angry landowners for two weeks has had no less then 3/4 of their staff charged. Most recently as of last month a Treasury Officer in the Provincial Government Treasury was charged for stealing K400,000 with her husband. More are yet to follow.”
It is understood that Governor Juffa has laid a formal police complaint against Ijivitari MP – now claimed Governor – through the vote of no confidence, David Arore. The nature of the complaint is for Arore’s alleged ‘breaking and entering’ of the Governor’s office.
“Mr Arore cannot simply declare himself Governor through illegal means,” said Juffa.