Former returning officer arrested

Former returning officer for the 2014 Madang Open by-election recount, Simon Sinai, has been arrested and charged with one count of false statement declaration, one count of perjury and one count of official corruption.

Sinai, who is currently the Deputy Electoral Commissioner operations, was slapped with the three charges by the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate yesterday.

Just after lunch time on Monday, he was taken to the fraud office at Konedobu, Port Moresby, to be interviewed by detectives.

His arrest follows alleged involvement in foul play during the by-elections for the Madang Open seat.

Sinai was the election manager based in Lae during the National Election. However, he was appointed returning officer for the Madang Open by-election in 2013.

According to statement from the fraud director Matthew Damaru, the complainant in this matter is the current governor for Madang Peter Yama, who was then a candidate in the 2013 Madang Open seat.

Yama had petitioned then winner Nixon Duban through the Court of Disputed Returns. (EP No. 12 of 2014). 

The court ruled in his favour and ordered a recount with the following specific orders;

  • All votes were to be recounted including votes from 6,116 ballot papers discovered at the Madang cemetery
  • The recount was to be conducted both electronically and manually

It is alleged that after the primary counts for the by-elections, Sinai had directed IT officers to pack the electronic counting machine and have it sent to Port Moresby. It was further alleged he manipulated the results of the votes counted manually.

A report was then provided by Sinai and the assistant registrar of the National Court.

Based on this report, Duban was declared winner by the court with 15,002 votes over Yama, who had 13,557 votes.

However the scrutineers and policemen providing security at the counting venue advised Yama that the results provided at the National Court were misleading and that the true results should have shown 16,654 for Yama and 15,002 for Duban.

This claim was investigated after complaints by Yama and was found by investigators from the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate to be true.

Damaru stated during the record of the interview at NFACD, Sinai also confirmed the final results during questioning.

Sinai was brought to the Boroko police station to be locked up after completing the arrest procedures.

He has been refused bail and will appear at the Waigani Committal Court from custody today (12 December) where he can apply for bail.

Imelda Wavik