By PNG Echo
It is very distressing that career public servants who have devoted their lives to the service of PNG are being used as pawns to get to the Prime Minister.
I wish I could tell you who said that, but I can’t. Although I can tell you it was in regards to the recent arrest of Deputy Secretary (Treasury) Mr. Aloysius Hamou in connection with the Israeli Turbines.
It is becoming increasingly rare that any of the good citizens of PNG are prepared to go on record openly criticising the shenanigans of Messrs Damaru and Gitua of the PNG Fraud Squad – and there’s much that needs scrutiny.
For even as the Prime Minister goes to some lengths to enact measures to rein in an ill-disciplined police force, Gitua and Damaru’s insubordination has been sanctioned time and time again by the PNG courts.
People are frightened – and so they should be – these two senior police officers are now a law unto themselves – vigilantes.
The disgraceful intimidation of Mr Aloysius Hamou – Deputy Secretary of Treasury
Mr Aloysius Hamou certainly was afraid when he was accosted at his home at 7.15 am on 28 January by police (they’d come the previous day early in the morning but the conscientious public servant had already left for work). And in spite of Lawyers engaged by Treasury turning up at the residence of Mr Hamou to inform the police officers that Mr Hamou was not compelled to accompany them to the police station and that he had no authority to provide the police with any Treasury documents (and indeed had legal impediments), the police were aggressively insistent.
Intimidation won the day and Mr Hamou and his lawyers took the argument to the Police station. At the Fraud Squad Offices Detective Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua was waiting
In spite of the fact that Mr Desmond Kipa of Twivey Lawyers informed Mr Gitua and other police that Mr Hamou was precluded, legally, from giving them information they interviewed him anyway. (Mr Kipa also gave them of copies of the Supreme Court order from SCA83 of 2014 which restrains the Police from investigating any matter concerning the Prime Minister and Police from harassing, intimidating, threatening or assaulting the Prime Minister’s lawyers) and it is well known that the Fraud squad was investigating the Prime Minister on the turbine matter.
Mr Hamou said nothing (at least one lawyer was with him all the time and can attest to that) and signed nothing – he was charged anyway.
He was charged with breaching section 92(1), which is a misdemeanour (a summary offence dealt with by the District Court) and is a charge that is NOT the jurisdiction of the Fraud Squad. Nevertheless the Fraud Squad had taken an inordinate interest in prosecuting (and persecuting) Mr Hamou.
The Officer in Charge of the police station was timidly reluctant to give Mr Hamou own recognisance bail as the amounts he said were “too large” and referred the matter to senior officers. Really? For a misdemeanor – an issue that should have seen bail granted as a matter of course?
It seems that Mr Hamou, a well-meaning and eagerly co-operative public servant; a man well into his fifties who had served his country for many decades and labored with a serious heart condition was being shamelessly used (and abused) to promote a base political end.
When you ask are there two sets of laws in PNG – think of this case before you answer.
They identified the weakest link
That’s the tip of the iceberg:
Mr Hamou was approached by the police quite unlawfully at the beginning of last year requesting that he provide Treasury documents concerning the funds allocated for the purchase of two gas turbines.
Mr Hamou, not appreciating that he had no authority to provide these documents (that are in the sole custody of the Secretary and confidential to the State pursuant to the Public Finance Management Act, and only obtainable by Search Warrant) happily acceded to their request. He had no qualms.
The documents speak for themselves: the Prime Minister asked Treasury to source funds from unallocated budget lines for the future procurement (purchase) of two gas turbines and Mr Hamou paid that money into a specific account to await the procurement process deputizing for the Secretary who was, at that time, in Japan. Treasury did not know who the seller was – neither is it Treasury’s role to know. Treasury paid out no funds.
This is everyday procedure yet it seems probable that it is these documents, obtained by false pretenses, which form the basis of Mr Hamou’s arrest and charge.
What’s more, Mr Hamou, over the last seven (7) months, has been constantly badgered by the fraud squad – up until his arrest – to sign a statement implicating himself and others, which he has consistently declined to do.
Deputy Secretary Treasury Polum has also been badgered to provide confidential documents to the police to which they were not entitled – she declined.
- Section 92 (1) says:
ABUSE OF OFFICE.
- A person employed in the Public Service who, in abuse of the authority of his office does, or directs to be done, any arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of another is guilty of a misdemeanour
While I have no intention of preempting the court decision, which is scheduled for 22 March, I challenge the reader to fit the actions to the crime and charge. Mr Hamou will argue he did nothing but his job – a compelling argument.
Shaking the tree
These rogue cops are merely shaking the tree hoping the Prime Minister will land at their feet, never considering that he may not be up the tree in the first place – in their zealotry (fuelled by what?) good men and true like Mr Aloysius Hamou are being used as cannon fodder. it’s a witch hunt.