election petitions

Election petitions given priority

Despite being just a portion of cases before the court, the judiciary has set a timeline to dispose all those petition trial in the National Court by June this year.

“We’ve set a target. In terms of the reviews, some have already been filed and hope by end of this year will see through most of the reviews,” he said.

Election petition reviews filed in the Supreme Court so far include that filed by Francis Potape over the Hela regional petition and Mai Dop over the Jimi seat. More are expected to be filed.

Pala disputes Gure’s win

Pala has filed a petition alleging two counts of bribery against Gure and grounds of errors and omissions against the Electoral Commission. This was during the scrutiny process at the Kwikila counting hall.

He anticipates bringing 15 witnesses for the trial while the first term MP and retired airline captain, Gure, is expected to have his lawyers file an objection on the competency of the petition.

Directions have been issued by the court to prepare it to go for trial while a date is yet to be set.

Petitions against Sandaun MPs go for directions

The leaders turned up with their lawyers at the Waigani National Court for directions hearing on their cases.

In the petition filed against Pruaitch, petitioner Solwai Emmanuel Mambei is alleging that Pruaitch’s nomination process was not properly done before a gazetted returning or presiding officer.

Mambei is also alleging 13 instances of bribery and anticipates using 30 witnesses for the trial while Pruaitch is expected to use 16 witnesses.

Dion files petition against Konga

Among them was the petition filed against East New Britain Governor, Nakikus Konga, by former governor, Sir Leo Dion.

Returning Officer Joap Voivoi was summoned on the request of Dion’s lawyer to appear in court for the trial. Other electoral officers will also be summoned soon.

Dion is alleging grounds of errors and omission during counting against the Electoral Commission.

He alleges that electoral officials who conducted counting were not appointed or gazetted as returning officers and assistant returning officers.

Petitions’ pre-trial Centralised in Waigani

Justice Collin Makail explained this week in court that the petitions will be heard in provinces where judges are based, when it goes to the trial stage.

For now, all directions hearing and pre-trials are being centralised in Waigani.

He made these comments when the petition filed against Bogia MP, Robert Naguri, went for directions.

Naguri was not present in court for directions nor was his lawyer when petitioner, Darius Kombe’s lawyer, asked the court to have the next directions hearing done in Wewak, where he is based.

Two petitions filed against Steven

The second-term MP, had petitions filed by Glenn Tobewa and Professor, Misty Baloiloi.

In the petition filed by Glenn Tobewa, two persons have been summoned by the court to be available for the trial.

Treasurer, Dairi Vele, has also been summoned to produce copies of signed cheques before October 4, for the trial.

As for the petition filed by Professor Baloiloi, he is alleging one count of bribery and undue influence against Steven.

Electoral Commission must sort legal rep

 Justice Collin Makail of the Waigani National Court said the Electoral Commission, Attorney General and Solicitor General need to sit down and meet on the representation of the Electoral Commission by law firms in Election petition matters.

Petitions filed are going for direction hearing at this state, to prepare it for trial, but some have not progressed far, due to the conflict in legal representation for the Electoral Commission.

​NA MPs welcome petitions

The petitions will now see these members bring the matter to the court of disputed returns.

The leaders include Member for Aitape and National Alliance Party leader Patrick Pruaitch, Member for Maprik John Simon and sitting Member for Nuku, John Sungi.

They were recently served these petitions while Angoram MP, Salio Waipo, was also served his through a media advertisement.

NA party leader and member for Aitape, Pruaitch, noted that the petitions were part of the normal process after elections.

​Candidates to file petition against Muthuvel

Regional candidates Michael Akis and Tony Puana are leading the petition.

The four-point petition covers allegations of bribery, undue influences, qualification to contest in 2012 and 2017 elections, and other election irregularities by the Electoral Commission during polling and counting.

The petitioners accused Governor Muthuvel of rigging the election process on the grounds that election officials had continued counting the regional ballot papers despite scrutineers disputing a number of ballot boxes.

​Restriction on court users

As election winds down, election petition cases are expected to be filed in the Court of Disputed Returns, challenging the outcome of the elections.

The Office of the Registrar of the Supreme and National Courts is expecting large crowds to attend and is now implementing strategies to manage the number of people accessing the court facilities. This is due to the construction underway at the Waigani court complex.

“We have limited space to accommodate the large volume of people we have experienced in the past,” the office of the registrar, Ian Augeria, said in a statement.