BY FIRMIN NANOL
THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA DEFENCE FORCE has been asked to help conduct arrests, following an investigation into the misuse of public funds in East Sepik province.
A plane carrying investigators with a government-appointed Investigation Task Force Sweep Team were prevented from disembarking and told to return to Port Moresby on Wednesday.
They were sent to investigate allegations of misuse of public funds under the court-reinstated Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, and the East Sepik provincial governments, and East Sepik Governor, Peter Wararu.
Some residents and political supporters have converged at the Wewak airport and told the Air Niugini management to return the investigators and police back to Port Moresby.
They claim it was politically motivated when their MP Sir Michael was ousted, and the matter is before the courts again.
PNG's Deputy Prime Minister, Belden Namah, has called them acts of terrorism.
“I condemn the actions of holding up of the national airlines service to Wewak in stopping the uniformed policemen and members of the Task Force Sweep to go and investigate,” Mr Namash said.
“This is an act of criminal[ity] and Governor Wararu should be arrested for this kind of form of activity.
“I've instructed the commander of the defence force to also inform the commanding officer of the Second Battalion [based in Wewak] to assist the police force at all cost to deal with these criminal elements,” he said.
“They have to be dealt with. They're supposed to respect the laws of this country and allow investigators to go. You have got to have them so the defence at Moem Barracks on stand by to assist police if there needs to be a call out to deal with those rogue elements in Wewak.”
Sir Michael Somare says neither his government nor the East Sepik provincial administration had misused public funds to warrant such an investigation.
He says the presence of armed policemen and investigators provoked his people to do what they did.
“People of East Sepik found out that the police were coming in, so it was the mob at the airport that threatened the airport authorities and told 'take your damn aircraft and get out of here' and that's what they did exactly. And 'take your policemen with your fully-armed police rifles',” Sir Michael said.
Mr Namah says Sir Michael and East Sepik leaders should allow the investigations if they have nothing to hide.
“Now tell me, what have you got to hide? This is an act of someone who is desperate to hide his roles. You cannot continue to act, you will never hide, eventually the truth will come out.”