Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika said money is essential to growth and development and when public servants misuse it, as in the case of Jeffery Yakopya, development is retarded.
“The role of public servants is to implement government decisions to deliver the goods and services to the people of this country and not to go into business themselves and run those businesses,” said Sir Gibbs.
“Any diversion and deviation from these responsibilities has its dire consequences and the court must not shy away from meeting out the consequences with severity.
“Public servants are entrusted with the responsibility to perform their roles with utmost responsibility.
“In this case, Jeffery Yakopya was a very senior officer in the department. He therefore had a very high degree of trust and responsibility to act with total honesty in responding to the public faith and trust,” he said when sentencing Yakopya to 9 years in prison with hard labour.
Yakopya was the Assistant Secretary Economic Branch with the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, when he, on behalf of Niugini Star Transport Limited, a company he incorporated, submitted a project proposal to build three bridges in 2010.
K5 million was paid to him in Nov 2010 for the construction of three Bailey bridge projects for Tundaka/Wage, Lapae and Guria in Margarima, Southern Highlands, now Hela province. Only one bridge was built.
The court said punitive and deterrent sentences have been imposed in the past in the form of custodial sentences.
“This court must continue in the same vein in the hope that the message will finally find its place in the minds and hearts of the people of PNG.
“Stealing from the government and anybody for that matter is wrong. It is dishonest to steal. When one steals, his or her dignity is damaged, that person is no longer a person of integrity,” he said.
Sir Gibbs went on to say the evidence they (Yakopya) gave to court before he pleaded guilty was that all three bridges were built and that people were now using them.
“This was an outright and blatant lie before he came to his senses and realised that he could not lie like this to the courts anymore because the court was going to visit the scene of the three bridges.
“In this case, you failed to be honest even when the matter came on for trial,” he added when handing down the court’s sentence against Yakopya.
(Loop PNG file picture of Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, at the opening of the 2015 legal Year at Waigani.)