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Leadership tribunal clears PNG MP John Simon
6:22 pm GMT+12, 11/02/2020, Papua New Guinea

Maprik MP John Simon has been cleared by the Leadership Tribunal of the nine “misconduct in office” allegations made against him by the Papua New Guinea Ombudsman Commission.
 
And he immediately cast aspersion on the integrity of some line agencies of Government, saying the only one that could be trusted was the judiciary.
 
“I am not afraid to say at this time that it is very difficult to trust the government line agencies, whether it’s the Ombudsman Commission (OC), or (police) fraud squad or public prosecutor,” he said.
“You can only trust the judiciary.”
 
The Tribunal made up of Justice Nicholas Miviri and magistrates Michael Apie’e and Nancy Lipai upheld a no-case-to-answer submission filed by Simon.
 
Simon submitted that the issue was not whether he should be convicted but whether he should be convicted on the “evidence” provided by the OC.
 
The tribunal ruled that the OC had failed to prosecute the allegations, and that there were no prima facie cases on the nine allegations.
 
It said the investigation by acting Chief Ombudsman Commissioner Richard Pagen only showed that a team of investigators was sent to Maprik but it failed to collect “evidence” because the people did not want to cooperate.
 
Justice Miviri said because the material comprising the statement of reasons was not being independently verified by the OC’s investigation, it would be contrary to the law and constitution for the tribunal to act on it in furtherance of the inquiry.
 
The main allegations were that K196, 920 (US$57,802) from the Maprik district fund was paid to Simon’s hire car company, and K1,310,746 (US$384,745) from the district fund was paid to his construction company for road maintenance without following proper tender processes.
 
Simon thanked Prime Minister James Marape for holding the Agriculture and Livestock ministry for him over the past eight months.
 
“He could have appointed somebody else to become minister but he kept the ministry for me and the people of Maprik,” Simon said.
 
He also said the department was driving the Government’s agenda in “taking back” what had been lost.
 
Simon will have his first meeting with commodity board members today to address issues in the department.
 
He will also get the Maprik District Development Authority budget passed by the governor and launch the district’s school fee funding project next week.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS


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