Court hears submissions on Hela governor seat

​The National Court today heard submission from parties in the case involving the Hela Governor’s seat and the election on Francis Potape as governor on September 13, 2016.

With the issue of writs set to take place on April 20, the issue of the governor’s seat has been the subject of legal battle since the death of the later Governor Anderson Agiru on April 28, 2016.

Lawyers representing Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP, Philip Undialu and Komo-Margarima Francis Potape who was purportedly elected governor presented arguments in court before Justice Collin Makail on Monday.

He reserved his ruling to a later date after hearing submissions.

This case was filed by Undialu and is substantively asking the court to nullify Potape’s election.

In the interim, it seeks to restrain Potape from exercising the powers and functions of a Governor, following his election by the Provincial Assembly meeting on Sept 13 in Tari.

The election of Sept 13,2016 came about as a court order that was issued by the National Court on Sept 6.

The court on Sept 6 nullified the election of Undialu and Potape on July 5, 2016 as governor respectively and told parties to go back to the Provincial Assembly meet and vote a new governor.

The Hela Provincial Assembly was ordered to go back and vote a governor at a date, time and venue appointed by the Provincial Assembly clerk to fill the vacancy in the Governor’s post as per the Standing Orders of the Hela Provincial Assembly.

The court was told that the Deputy Clerk called the meeting and not the Clerk on Sept 13, 2016.

Undialu’s lawyer Goiye Gileng, told the court today during submissions that the faction that was on Undialu’s side was not informed of the provincial Assembly meet. Potape’s lawyer Philip Ame said otherwise.

Gileng said the three main issues the court must determine who had the authority to hold the Provincial Assembly meet on Sept 13, if the notice was given to all parties including his client and whether Potape’s faction did serve the notice of the meet on Undialu’s faction.


 (Loop file picture of the two leaders, Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP, Philip Undialu, and Komo-Margarima MP, Francis Potape.)


Sally Pokiton