Governor Gary Juffa slams removal attempt by logging interests
My original mind, where are you?

Bougainville warlord threatens landowners over payment

Peter O'Neill, John Momis & Chris UmaCOLUMBUS KANANGKERU’AAVIROI *

CHRIS Uma, the self-styled General of the Meekamui Defence Force and self-professed raskol, is living up to his moniker by trying to extort a million kina from Siokate landowners of Arawa town who recently got a K3 million land lease payment.

According to insiders, the payment is part of arrears owed by the PNG government to landowners and dating back to the 1970s. It represents a 99 year lease for 375 acres of a customary land.

After years of protracted discussion with the national government, it was agreed that K3 million would initially be forwarded to landowners through the Arawa Loloho Poraka Resource Owners Association.

When National Planning Minister Charles Abel presented the cheque during a recent trip to Bougainville, Chris Uma (seen in the photo with Peter O'Neill and John Momis) made his demand known to Theresa Jaintong, chairwoman of the Association, who had been at the forefront of securing the funds.

Chris Uma is a close relative to Theresa Jaintong through the Kuravang clanship.

Uma’s threat was not veiled. He openly demanded that K1 million be paid to him or someone would be killed.

He is alleged to have followed this with an instruction to his older brother to hold up Theresa Jaintong and her sister at knife point at a shopping centre in Arawa and make off with their vehicle.

The two grandmothers were left in a state of deep shock.

The incident almost sparked bloodshed when close relatives of the women mobilised to retaliate.

Quick action by a son-in-law and another well- known ex-combatant relative defused the situation. The vehicle was reclaimed and, with the help of the police, a process of mediation was initiated.

During the meetings, Uma was said to be disrespectful to police, issuing threats and renewing his demands that the money be paid at once or someone would be killed or he or will forcefully gain possession over the land.

Uma is claiming the money should be paid in recognition of his status as paramount chief of the Clan-A title, which no one remembers bestowing on him.

He claims that he was instrumental in securing the block of land that was released to the Kuravang clan thereby justifying his demands to be paid a K1 million share.

According to sources, the money will be shared between eight clans who all profess ownership of some portion of the land.

It is clear that Uma has no grounds for his claim. It is irrational and serves to alienate him further from a community he has bullied for decades.

* Columbus Kanangkeru’aaviroi is a pseudonym. The author’s identity is known to the editor


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