A media statement issued this morning by Thomas Eluh (pictured), Assistant Commissioner Crimes with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, has laid down a significant challenge to Peter O’Neill’s government in what has been a week of frenetic political activity.
The statement, which shows that the RPNGC is not going to respond supinely to what it sees as its obligations in law, makes a number of critical points, including that:
The Member for Kandep and former Treasurer Don Polye yesterday voluntarily surrendered himself to the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Office in port Moresby. The interview was suspended until Monday to give Mr Polye time to brief lawyers.
Police are searching for recently appointed Justice Minister and Attorney-General Ano Pala to question him on allegations of contempt and perverting the cause of justice.
Recently appointed Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki has been charged on two counts of abuse of office and perverting the course of justice. The investigation is continuing and there could be further charges.
Consideration is being given to whether lawyers Paul Mawa and Tiffany Twivey, who are believe to act for Mr O’Neill, should be questioned by police.
Police have appealed to Mr O’Neill to voluntarily make himself available to fraud investigators to be interviewed in relation to the illegal payment of K71 million to Paul Paraka Lawyers.
Assistant Commissioner Eluh says that “our criminal justice system hangs in the balance. As a leader he [O’Neill] must respect our laws and lead by example. The people of Papua New Guinea and the world are watching closely.”
Me Eluh “reassured” the public that “the wheels of justice have been set in motion and will not stop until prime minister O’Neill comes in for the interview.”
The statement continues with a chronology of the events that have occurred during the week in relation to police actions and it also addresses a number of important questions and issues that have arisen during that period.
A full text of the media statement follows….
Media Statement by Royal PNG Constabulary on current events
Assistant Commissioner Crimes
Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary
The Member for Kandep Hon. Don Pomb Polye at 3.45pm today [Friday] voluntarily surrendered himself to the National Fraud & Anti Corruption Office at Konedobu, National Capital District to be interviewed over the illegal payment of K71 million to Paul Paraka Lawyers.
Present to receive him for the record of interview were Assistant Commissioner Crimes Thomas Eluh and Director National Fraud & Anti Corruption Chief Superintendent Mathew Damaru. The interview was suspended at 5pm to Monday June 23 to allow Mr Polye time to arrange a lawyer for himself.
In other developments Police are now searching for Abau MP and Justice and Attorney Minister Ano Pala for two counts of contempt and perverting the cause of justice.
“We believe Mr Pala’s instruction to disengage our police lawyer and engage the services of Paul Mawa lawyers who agreed to consent to the Prime Minister’s application to restrain police from arresting the Prime Minister is an obstruction of justice,” ACP Eluh said.
“We had earlier charged Geoffrey Vaki for two counts of abuse of office and perverting the course of justice. The investigation is still continuing and there could be further charges. We are also assessing whether lawyers Paul Mawa and Tiffany Twivey should be brought in for questioning as well,” Mr Eluh said.
“For the record, let me state that no-one is above the law. It is our duty as police officers to uphold the rule of law which is supreme without fear or favour.
“Whilst maintaining our stand that we will respect the rule of law, and respect the temporary court restraint, I want to again appeal to our Prime Minister to voluntarily make himself available to our fraud investigators to be interviewed in relation to the illegal payment of K71 million to Paul Paraka Lawyers.
"Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and it is on that basis that we humbly request Prime Minister O’Neill to come in.
“Our criminal justice system hangs in the balance. As a leader he must respect our laws and lead by example. The people of Papua New Guinea and the world are watching closely.
“Let me reassure the people of Papua New Guinea and the world that the wheels of justice have been set in motion and will not stop until Prime Minister O’Neill comes in for the interview.
“Contrary to statements released by Prime Minister O’Neill, there are no hidden motives, nor has the Constabulary or its members compromised.
Here are the facts as they unfolded:
1. May 5th - Chairman of the Investigating Task Force Sweep Sam Koim wrote to Commissioner of Police Toami Kulunga highlighting the existence of a second letter purportedly from Prime Minister O’Neill which makes reference to the first letter;
2. Commissioner Kulunga then assembled a team of four investigators including myself to examine the documents before us;
3. As this matter related to our Prime Minister we took almost a month to examine the documents and convinced with our findings informed the Commissioner that the Prime Minister must be interviewed;
4. A warrant was obtained from the Chief Magistrate on June 12. However, due to the Commissioner’s engagement in court over his contempt case we could not get the invitation letter signed until June 16;
5. Since the warrant was served on the PM he has shown absolute contempt of the warrant (a court order) and resistance;
6. The Prime Minister continues to brand all state agencies, as politically
corrupt. In his Affidavit to the Court and through his lawyer, he has branded the officers who instituted the criminal process as rogue police officers. I am not a rogue officer.
I am the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Crimes Directorate. I am a career police officer with over 40 years’ experience as a police detective and prosecutor.
“Various questions have been raised also by members of the public as well as the esteemed leaders which I feel need to be explained as well:
Why was a warrant of arrest taken out against the PM instead of inviting him for an interview?
“It is a requirement of law under section 87(2) of the Criminal Code that a person cannot be arrested for the offence of official corruption without a warrant.”
Why did we not officially write to the PM and give him time to turn up for an interview?
“The warrant of arrest is a court order ordering police to effect arrest on sight. We did not do that because we respected the office of the Prime Minister and instead allowed him to come at 11am or 1pm that day.”
Why didn't we serve the warrant at Parliament House instead of meeting him outside of the office?
“We could not serve the warrant on the PM at his office at Parliament House because section 14 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act makes it an offence to serve a warrant within the precincts of Parliament. Besides, he was not served on the street but at the Remington office at Konedobu.”
Did we harass the PM when serving the warrant?
“No we did not harass the Prime Minister when serving the warrant. All due respect and protocol was accorded to the Prime Minister. There were only three people involved in serving him the warrant including myself. We did not carry any weapons or engaged additional man power. As far as we are concerned, we have complied with all the laws and due processes, from the investigation all the way to the service of the warrant and maintain that we accorded the respect to him as the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.
“However, instead of fronting up for interview after we served him the letter the Prime Minister locked himself up at Parliament with all the ministers and used their powers to make decisions that we believe are designed to temper with the course of justice. The following are some instances:
….· On 16th June, immediately after PM O'Neill was served the warrant, he went to Parliament, conducted a NEC meeting and replaced Commissioner Kulunga, who signed the letter of invitation and installed Geoffrey Vaki as Acting Commissioner;
….· On the morning of 17th June in Court, the State through the Solicitor General supported Chief Superintendent Nicholas Miviri, counsel for the Police and objected the application for Mr O'Neill to obtain a stay order against the warrant;
….· On the afternoon of 17th June Mr O'Neill who we allege wanted to control the outcome of the case replaced Attorney General Kerenga Kua who was the Minister overseeing Task-Force Sweep team and the State's legal team who opposed the PM's application in Court on June 17;
….· On the same afternoon of 17 June, Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Simon Kauba called on the PM to voluntarily come for the interview;
….· On 18th June in Court, the State's legal team comprising of Mr Miviri, Mr Koim and Ms Jubilee Tindiwi were caught by surprise when the new Acting Police Commissioner Vaki and the new Attorney General Ano Pala instructed Paul Mawa Lawyers to appear on behalf of the Police and consent to a stay order. Acting Police Commissioner instructed Mr Paul Mawa to consent on the stay application of the warrant, basically stopping the course of justice. The instruction to consent to a stay against the constitutional functions of the Police was issued by Mr Vaki; and
….· In the afternoon of 18th June, PM O'Neill used his position as Chairman of NEC to remove Deputy Commissioner Kauba and disbanded the Task-Force Sweep team.
“We believe that all the actions of the PM since the service of the warrant on him on are designed to pervert the course of justice. We also believe that all the ministers who sat in the NEC have conspired to defeat the course of justice. We are closely examining the facts with a view to charging them all with a number of charges for various offences.”
Source: PNG Blogs