I will not stand down: ABG Chief Secretary

Chief Secretary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Joseph Nobetau, says he will not stand down following a petition by services providers and ex-combatants.

The five-point petition alleges malpractice within the ABG and calls for immediate investigations as well as sidelining of government officials, among them, President John Momis and Nobetau.

For the ABG Chief Secretary, the petition calls for an investigation into Nobetau’s alleged involvement in the awarding of citizenship to Djoko Tjandra.

The petition by services providers and ex-combatants was delivered on December 3rd alleging malpractices in the ABG, claiming there is incompetency, corruption and a system of favouritism.

They highlighted a series of allegations involving infrastructure projects, health programs, double dipping by public officials and agriculture projects which have not started despite millions being released.

Among them was the allegation against the Chief Secretary’s involvement in the Djoko Tjandra citizenship saga.

The petitioners threatened to shut down government services if their demands are not met.

In a statement issued on Monday December 10th, the Chief Secretary said the rule of law must prevail and no Government should be held hostage to unlawful demands and threats.

He said any grievances such as those stated in the petition should be pursued through the appropriate channels.

“Any person who has information that shows a breach of the law or the Leadership Code can refer those matters to the police or the Ombudsman,” said Nobetau.

“There is no limit to the scope of current investigations being undertaken by the Fraud Squad and the Ombudsman Commission. No leader is above the law and I would again encourage the petitioners to allow these matters to take their proper lawful course.

“Threats to shut down government services and cause major disruption damages the reputation of Bougainville in the international community, impacts our economy and deters potential investors. 

“I would encourage the petitioners to think carefully about the implications of any actions they may propose to take.”

Regarding allegations against him, he said he has made it clear in past statements that he had no involvement in the Tjandra issue.

“I have addressed the matter of Djoko Tjiandra previously. I attach a copy of my prior public statements, noting that (a) the granting of permanent residence to Mr Tjandra was a decision of the then Minister for Immigration, counter to advice from me, and (b) I was not Chief Migration Officer at the time Mr Tjandra was granted citizenship, and prior to leaving that role I provided clear and unequivocal advice to the then Minister on the matter.  My conscience is clear and I have encouraged the Ombudsman Commission to pursue those who were responsible.

“I will not be standing down as Chief Secretary.  Any decision on my future is a matter for the Bougainville Senior Appointments Committee in the context of my administrative and professional conduct, or the Ombudsman Commission in regard to any alleged breach of the leadership code.”

(ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau filepic)

Cedric Patjole