Legality of Potape’s election to be made known soon

​The National Court will make its ruling on April 22 on the legality of Komo-Magarima MP Francis Potape’s purported election as Governor of Hela Province on Dec 29 last year.

Potape was purportedly elected governor of the province by members of the Hela Provincial Assembly, ousting the Hela Regional Member elect Anderson Agiru.

The matter returned before Justice Ere Kariko yesterday (Thursday) where counsels representing Agiru and Potape presented submissions in court.

Counsel representing Agiru, Greg Egan told the court that the election of Potape failed to comply with section 8(3) of the Hela Provincial Assembly Standing Orders where it was supposed to move the motion “after” seven days.

Egan said such motions can be moved after notice has been served to the Provincial Assembly Clerk. In this case Agiru’s lawyers said the clerk was not served.

Instead Egan submitted, the notice was served to the province’s Deputy Governor Thomas Potape who sat as the Chairman even when the Governor-elect was not away on leave of absence.

He added that such letters of notice to remove a governor should have been served to the Provincial Business Committee as per section 120 of the standing orders.

However, Potape’s lawyer Philip Ame told the court such committee does exist in the province and since it does not exist, the notice will go back to the Provincial Assembly members who decide.

Ame maintained a valid notice was made known to Agiru on Dec 14 last year which was later tabled on Dec 22 before it was moved on Dec 29 to oust Agiru as governor.

He said the Provincial Assembly had the required one-quarter of assembly members to move a motion against a governor of the province.

“Thomas Potape on Dec 22 rightfully and lawfully conducted the meeting,”Ame added.

Caption: Loop File picture of Agiru and Potape.

Sally Pokiton