Francis Potape

Undialu needs time to consider next move

 Lawyers representing Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP, Philip Undialu and Komo-Margarima MP, Francis Potape who was purportedly elected Governor on Sept 13 returned to court before Justice Collin Makail today.

Undialu’s lawyer Goiye Gileng told the court his client needs more time to consider his next step following Justice Makail’s comments in the National Court last Friday.  

Justice Makail on Friday, Sept 30 told Undialu to make up his mind, whether he wants to pursue fighting the Hela Governor Seat in the National Court or the Supreme Court.

Undialu asked to make up mind on Hela Governor’s battle

Justice Collin Makail, presiding over another motion over the Hela Governor seat told Undialu’s lawyer to ask his client to not pursue the same issue in different Courts.  

At the National Court, Undialu is attempting to restrain the member for Komo Magarima, Francis Potape, from exercising the powers and functions of a Governor, following the Sept 13 Provincial Assembly meeting that saw the members of the assembly voting him as the new Hela Governor.

Undialu seeks restraining orders against Potape

The amended notice of motion filed on Sept 19 in the Election Petition Originating Summons No.8/2016 seeks, amongst other things, an order restraining Potape from performing the functions and duties as Governor for Hela Province.

That motion briefly went before the National Court this morning but could not be heard as the defendants’ lawyers, including Potape’s lawyer, were not served the motion.

Undialu’s lawyer Justin Wohuinangu said they could not effect service of the motion on Potape’s lawyer Philip Ame.

Potabe takes charge of Hela

Deputy Governor, Thomas Potabe now takes charge of the province and will call a provincial executive council meeting this Thursday before an assembly is conducted next week Tuesday to appoint a new governor.

Potape is optimistic to return as the duly elected governor of the province after the court also gave clear directions on who the legitimate members of the provincial assembly are.

Decision on Hela governor seat today

Justice Collin Makail of the National Court deferred that decision from Monday afternoon to this morning. Arguments in this case were heard on Aug 25.

The motion filed by Potape also seeks to restrain member Koroba-Lake Kopiagio, Philip Undialu, from acting as Governor.

Undialu was purportedly elected governor by the Provincial Assembly on the morning of July 5 at 10 o’clock while Potape was elected governor at 2pm the same day.

A Provincial Assembly meeting was conducted on June 28 in Hela. This meeting was adjourned to the afternoon of July 5.

Court to hear Potape’s motion on Aug 25

Potape and his lawyer appeared before Justice Collin Makail on Friday morning seeking interim orders to have the court recognise him as Hela Governor and Thomas Potape as deputy governor.

The motion also seeks to restrain member Koroba-Lake Kopiagio, Philip Undialu, from acting as Governor. Undialu was purportedly elected governor by the Provincial Assembly on the morning of July 5.

Potape’s notice of motion filed on Aug 9 did not proceed to be heard today.

Hela governor seat to end up in court again

This announcement comes following reports that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Inter-government Relations, Sir Leo Dion, formally announced Member for Koroba-Lake Kopiago, Philip Undialu, as the legitimate governor of the new province.

Potape is taking this matter to court on grounds that only a governor is eligible to conduct a provincial assembly and not the clerk of the assembly.

He says in the absence of a governor, the organic law stipulates that a deputy governor automatically becomes the acting chairman and should be the one chairing the assembly.

Potape happy with court decision

Potape said it took him seven months in Bomana, through a successful Supreme Court appeal and a re-trial to be finally freed from criminal charges today.

“It is a relief for me and my family, my deputy governor, all my supporters and friends. The judge threw out the case because primary materials were obtained that were without proper search warrant and prosecution fell short proving the case,” he said to media outside court after the decision.

And he thanked his lawyer for winning the case through his Supreme Coyrt appeal and now the trial.

Potape exonerated of mismanagement by court

Justice George Manuhu this afternoon found Potape not guilty, putting an end to the criminal trial against him.

The decision on the no-case submission came today after Potape’s lawyer on July 14, asked the court to acquit him and stop the case from further proceeding as he did not have a case to answer to.

The court in its ruling found that the documents tendered into evidence during the trial fell short and did not show that Potape and other 9 members of his district received payments.

Witnesses yet to come in for Potape’s re-trial

The State this morning presented an affidavit from police investigating officer to the court to inform it that the availability of transportation funds is beyond his control in bringing witnesses into Port Moresby in time for the trial.

The re-trial was supposed to commence this morning however the State sought an adjournment to next Monday which was allowed by the court.

That adjournment was objected by Potape’s lawyer, Justin Haiara saying they had been waiting for the trial for almost 12 months and that the leader has responsibilities in the Hela Provincial Government.