Empower chieftaincy system: Juffa

The creation and empowering of chieftaincy in the Oro Community by Governor Gary has produced results in the recent past.

Apart from community cohesion by working under the chief and following instruction for a peaceful living, there were other activities of unlawful behaviour that have also come under the microscope of the chieftaincy.

Governor Gary Juffa who visited Ambene Village last week accompanied by Provincial Police Commander Superintendent Michael Welly and Administrator Trevor Magei, said he was happy to see the surrendering of murder suspects to the law - skilfully organized by the village chiefs.

In a normal circumstance, surrendering of criminals to police would not happen and does not happen, although it may have happened in the past, Juffa said.

He said instilling the chieftaincy system under the Oro Provincial Government has proven results in many aspects including resolving law and order issues.

People are beginning to live in harmony and listening and obeying instructions from their chiefs which is a very good sign and also a cost-effective way of resolving disputes, he said.

“Last week Thursday I travelled to my tribal lands in Hunjara, specifically Ambene Village. I travelled with the PPC and Provincial Administrator and a team of Policemen and administration staff and the Public Solicitor. We were on a sombre mission. We were to seal an event for the handover of murder suspects allegedly involved in the murder of two men, also from Ambene Village. The surrendering of the suspects was an event I had arranged with the Chief of the Ambene Village and with the help of our tribesmen and clansmen from my clan including my own clan Chief Phillip Kerahu,” Juffa said.

He said the murderers had disturbed the peace of the community and caused a significant rift, splitting the once serene village into a deadly feuding war zone.

This resulted in the people of Ambene not being able to go to their gardens, church or visit others, as is the usual social life.

“Upon our arrival we were greeted not in the usual Orokaivan fashion of protocols dance and song but in the simple church based traditional hymns sung manner. A moving welcome. These were my people and I could not help but be emotional. They greeted me with songs of sorrow and pleas for help. Many cried. I cried. I knew the deceased and the victims and the perpetrators. I was related to most of them,” he said.

Juffa said he had previously travelled to his own village nearby and asked his chief what could be done to solve the problem and they discussed to ask the suspects to surrender themselves.

“I had arranged to meet with and speak to Ambene Chief Kingsford Ilimo to discuss how to address the issues that had disrupted the peace of Ambene. We agreed that the best possible way forward was for all alleged suspects to surrender themselves,” he said.

Juffa said he also assured Chief Kingsford that he would ensure that the suspects were not mistreated but given over to the Police for processing and justice would be meted by the system.

The chief agreed that the young men would surrender themselves in the following week Monday.

The Chief gave his word that they would be ready at 6am for transportation to Popondetta and be handed over to myself and the PPC, he said.

“True to his word, on Monday, the suspects were brought with their families to the road and picked up by an Administration vehicle and transported to the Police Station in Popondetta.

There they were handed over to myself and PPC Welly with Administrator witnessing the whole event. Their families were there. I shook their hands and offered words of comfort. They were doing what was right and just. They would now be processed by the justice system and whatever the outcome they have accepted their fate,” Juffa said.

The Governor said this would not have been possible had it not been for Chief Kingsley, Chief Kerahu and his fellow Chiefs and other elders as well as the women and youth leaders and the churches and the Ambene community.

Juffa said this story is unique in a sense that PNG has lost its identity and order in the communities because the structure of respect and leadership under the chieftaincy has broken down.

It needs to be brought back and reinstalled.

Freddy Mou