Dei open petition dismissed

The election petition disputing Wesley Nukundj’s win as Dei open MP has been dismissed by the National Court.

Justice Collin Makail dismissed the petition today because the petitioner, James Pini, failed to establish that polling was compromised by the setting aside of six ballot boxes.

On 8 May, the National Court found the petition competent with valid grounds for trial.

Petitioner James Pini alleged the election was compromised when the returning officer refused to admit six ballot boxes for counting, thus affecting the election outcome.

The refusal to admit ballot boxes was done by the returning officer as per section 153(A) of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government election.

The six boxes refused were from the Tuti, Kondopina 1 (closer to Enga) and Kondopina 2 (closer to Simbu) polling areas.

A policewoman, who gave evidence in the trial, stated voters in Kondopina 1 agreed for their leaders to mark the ballot papers on their behalf. Her evidence was not challenged.

The court found the petitioner failed to establish that polling was compromised and there was no basis to set aside the decision of the RO not to include the six disputed ballot boxes for counting.

The petition was dismissed today.

The ruling today was a relief for sitting MP who is also the transport minister.

“At the end of the day, it’s a relief for me, as a senior state minister. And the petition has consumed a lot of my time, especially in getting evidence and getting witnesses together, flying them down here (Pom) and back again.

“It’s a very costly exercise. Finally it’s over and finally I can go back to my office and carry out my duties and responsibility again,” he said.

The MP also called for peace among supporters in the electorate.

“My appeal to everyone in the district is government services must go. It’s just me and the petitioner.  So my supporters and my people should not take sides, and say or do anything bad against the petitioner’s people,” Nukundj added.

(Dei MP Wesley Nukundj outside the courthouse today)

Sally Pokiton