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Nobetau declines payout; seeks day in court

Joseph Nobetau lands
Joseph Nobetau - "My continued work to address corruption and hold law breakers to account was causing some political discomfort"


BUKA - Sidelined Bougainville chief secretary, Joseph Nobetau, has declined to accept an offer to compensate him for his termination from office by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

“The ABG’s lawyer presented me with a cheque for K660,692.80 together with a deed of release in which I would be expected to waive my constitutional rights,” Mr Nobetau said.

Speaking alongside his lawyer, Silas Kaule of Young and Williams Lawyers, after the offer was made, Mr Nobetau maintained that his dismissal from office was illegal, and that it logically followed that the proposed payout was also illegal.

“After consulting with my lawyer, I determined that accepting the payout was not appropriate,” he said.

“The matter is currently sub-judice and I remain of the view that it is for the court to determine an appropriate way forward.

“This should of course also include the matter of legal costs, and damages to compensate me for defamatory statements made at the time I was sacked,” he said.

Mr Nobetau was dismissed from office on 23 August following a decision by the Bougainville Executive Council to terminate his contract.

Earlier last week, Justice Miviri of the national court granted leave for Mr Nobetau to seek judicial review.

In his decision, Justice Miviri noted that there were “very serious issues to be tried” and that that the ABG had failed to comply with Section 147(2) of the Bougainville Constitution.

“This has never been about the money for me,” Mr Nobetau said.

“I had a contract of employment to October 2021. I was committed to working hard in the lead up to the referendum and beyond to promote good governance and enhance the public service so that Bougainville was positioned well for the future.

“However, it is clear to me based on discussions I had with the Bougainville Executive Council prior to my dismissal, and representations made to the PNG police minister shortly after, that my continued work to address corruption and hold those who break the law to account was causing some political discomfort.”

“I stand by my actions and my work and I have full confidence that in my personal case, that Justice will prevail” he said.

The case is due to return to court on Monday 11 November.


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