COI to investigate Manumanu deal

A Commission of Inquiry (COI) will be established to probe allegations into the Manumanu land deal.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill made the announcement today following full examination of briefs provided by Government agencies involving the land deal in Central Province.

O’Neill said it is in the public interest that he has decided to establish the COI to investigate allegations levelled against senior ministers and senior members of departments.

The matter has also been referred to the Police Commissioner for the Fraud Squad to carry out its own investigation.

The Ombudsman Commission will also carry out their own investigations for leadership code breaches.

The COI will take up to eight weeks to complete and will be led by a very experienced and credible person, a retired judge, to investigate all aspects of the purchase of this land.

An announcement will be made as soon as arrangements are finalised.

The COI will include the conduct of senior officials at the Department of Defence, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, Kumul Consolidated Holdings, the Office of the Valuer General, the Office of the State Solicitor and the Department of Treasury, and the Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited (MVIL) trust.

The investigation will also include the private sector, people who owned those portions of land, and anybody else who was involved in the sale of this particular land.

A significant focus of investigations will be on the sale and purchase of portion 406 in Manumanu at a cost of K46 million by Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH), and also the purchase of portions 422 for K7.2 million and 423 for K9.2 million by Department of Defence.

O’Neill said the National Executive Council did not have any visibility or give any specific approval for the purchase of land by these two agencies of Government.

NEC had given approval for the agencies to work together for the long-term relocation of the naval base, and for the relocation of Murray Barracks and Taurama Barracks.

Transactions above K10 million have to come through Cabinet for approval. This did not happen in this case, O’Neill said.

O’Neill added that these transfers required intergovernmental agencies to facilitate.

He said it appears that individual Government agencies have taken it upon themselves, without proper checks and balances, to undertake land acquisition arrangements.

That is why the Commission of Inquiry must deal with these issues, and the manner in which these decisions were carried out.

Quintina Naime