MP Lagea guilty on failing to submit returns

Members of the public tend to have a reduced sense of respect of leaders when they fail to comply to annual returns submissions, which is a mandated responsibility says the leadership tribunal chairman.

In dealing with the case of Kagua Erave Member James Lagea, tribunal chairman Justice Goodwin Poole said failure on the part of leaders to submit their annual returns potentially exposed them and called their integrity into question.

Lagea was referred to the tribunal in January 2015 on allegations of misconduct in office when he failed to submit financial returns as required under Section 89 of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates. This lead to a failure in upholding his duties and responsibilities of office as required under Section 27 of the Constitution and the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership.

Lagea admitted to the allegation on July 3 through his lawyer Peter Kuman before the tribunal.

Justice Poole said Lagea had failed to submit his returns since he was elected into Parliament in 2012, a mandated responsibility he was supposed to do three months after taking office.

He said the Registrar of Political Parties and Candidates Dr Alphonse Gelu wrote to Lagea on March 4, 2015 informing the leader of his failure to submit his returns.

However Justice Poole said there were no specific terms to suggest to the leader of urgency in carrying out his responsibility.

This morning (July 27) the tribunal ruled that the leader was guilty based on his admission early this month of failing to submit returns.

Justice Poole said they were satisfied the leader was guilty of misconduct in office however they were not satisfied that he failed to bring his integrity into questioning.

He said there was no allegation brought before the tribunal which allowed Lagea’s personal integrity into questioning.

The matter will return before the tribunal on July 31 when submissions into appropriate penalties will be made by counsel.

Pictured is Lagea addressing his supporteers after the sitting today.

Sally Pokiton