In a statement, Gabadi-Manumanu Land Committee chairman, John Daroa, said: “This is because William Duma is under investigation in the controversial Manumanu land deal in Kairuku district while he was the minister for public enterprise and state investments in the last government.
“The outcome of the investigation by the police fraud squad, administrative inquiry and Ombudsman Commission is yet to be made public.”
The landowners pointed out that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill recently admitted that his government had made mistakes and they will correct them. However, Duma’s appointment is a clear demonstration of the Government’s disregard and disrespect of the country’s laws and processes.
“We the Gabadi-Manumanu and Central Province people view this as a slap in the face by Peter O’Neill,” continues Daroa.
“Why is he perverting the course of justice by appointing Duma, who is under criminal investigation, back to the office he was suspended from? This is a conflict of interest.
“We are seeking legal interpretations on this matter and the support of our Central Province Members in Parliament.
“We are also considering a public protest if the Government fails to respond positively.”
On February 6, 2017, then Minister for Defence, Fabian Pok, and Minister for State Enterprises William Duma, stepped aside from their portfolios for allegations of involvement.
During that time, Central Province leaders united and spoke against the illegality of the deal on their land.
Central Province Pressure Group spokesperson, Lucielle Paru, said the land has been sold to people who had no right over it.
(Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announcing an administrative inquiry into the Manumanu land deal on March 7, 2017)