Decision of ITFS disbanding next month

The Waigani National Court has reserved its ruling on the judicial review of the disbanding of the Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITFS) to next month.

Justice Collin Makail on Thursday afternoon heard submissions from parties in the judicial review case; ITSF chairman Sam Koim who represented himself, lawyer representing Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Mal Varitimos, NEC’s lawyer Tiffany Twivey-Nonggorr and Nicholas Tame, representing the Royal PNG Constabulary.

The ITFS team was disbanded in an NEC decision in 2014, however that has been stayed by the National Court pending the outcome of this Judicial Review proceeding that has been in court for the past two years.

Moves by the government to have the new investigation body Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) set up was also haulted when the stay order of the National Court was issued.

Koim told the court yesterday the ICAC was a decision of reaction by the Prime Minister using the NEC to get back at the Task Force sweep after he came under investigation and a warrant of arrested was taken out against him.

“He holds a dominant influence in NEC and ministers who report to NEC,” Koim said.

Twivey-Nonggorr in response said the ITSF initially was set up to investigate complaints into the Department of Finance and National Planning and was going good for a while but time came for a change.

She said ITFS was a coordinating committee set up as a policy decision of the NEC and was to be replaced by ICAC adding the Police National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate and the Ombudsman Commission were other bodies also fighting corruption in the country.

Varitimos told the court the NEC has the authority to disband the ITFS as it was created from a policy decision and can be disbanded.

He said the proper way to tackle corruption was through ICAC, led by a judge as has been happening around the world and not by the police force.

He added the ITFS is a lose body of people created by a policy of cabinet and can be revoked by cabinet.

Varitimos went on to say the orders sought in the judicial review filed by Koim should not be granted because the case was not properly instituted and declaratory orders sought by Koim to get a criminal case against the Prime Minister should also not be granted.

A decision from the trial is expected on Nov 8.

(Loop file picture of ITSF chairman Sam Koim.)


Sally Pokiton