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Electoral officers to be investigated: Port Moresby Police Chief Turi

According to NCD Metropolitan Superintendent Ben Turi, Boroko police apprehended Hentinui, his deputy, area returning officer and a driver for being in possession of suspicious documents, ballot papers and a huge sum of money.

“Hentuni was apprehended at 6-Mile in a tinted, unmarked vehicle, while on his way to inform the electoral officers of the polling being postponed.”

“Police discovered K184,000 (US$57,000) in cash, with some contracted document purportedly signed by Hentinu and a certain candidate.”

“His deputy was apprehended at Bisini with ballot boxes. Both were trailed by the police after a tip-off.”

“The vehicle was suspicious because it was tinted, and at the same time, there was no police escort.”

He said the vehicle was of suspicious because such materials should be escorted by police and police were not informed.

Turi said the Electoral Commission confirmed what Hentinu claimed, and that the money was allowance for polling officials, and that was part of the delay in polling. He said two candidates have also been taken in for questioning as well in relation to the huge sum of money, adding that names will be released once investigations are complete.

Turi said he personally spoke with Commissioner Baki over the phone, who advised to have both (election manager and deputy) replaced before NCD goes into polling on Friday. He further advised that all suspects must be released from custody to allow for the handover and takeover of the new election manager in two days time to ensure free fair and safe election on Friday.

“After polling we will take them in for questioning including others, right now we have not laid any charges yet,” said Turi.

He acknowledged the police officers for a job well done, and appealed to the voters, scrutineers and supporters of candidates, to report to police if they come across any suspicious act.

Meanwhile, PNG Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato  defended the National Capital District election officials who were detained by police at the start of polling in the city’s capital.

Last night, Hetinu and the female officer were released from Boroko Police Station, but the third officer, who allegedly drove out of the PNGEC Boroko office with the ballot papers in his vehicle, is still detained.

Gamato told reporters at the press conference , that he was aware of these incidences, and defended that the K184,000(US$57,000) in cash was actually camping allowances for all the polling officials in the NCD.

He said police also turned up at his office and questioned him over this issue, including the other incident.

“I am aware of the incidents this morning, ” Gamato said.

He (election manager) was going to polling stations when police pulled him up.

“The allegation this morning was basically that he was carrying money given to him by candidates that was the allegation in the morning.”

“I want to say this; basically he was carrying some cash with him to try and sort out the payments for the officials’ camping allowances, and so police checked his vehicle and picked him up with that large sum of money,” Gamato said. I am aware of that, I organised payments for the officials’ camping allowances,” he said.

“So he was carrying that cash, police picked him up, they also came and questioned me, and I said yes,” he said.

Gamato was also asked about the vehicle that is parked at the Boroko police station detained by the police with allegations it was carrying boxes of ballot papers belonging to two candidates in the city.

But Gamato said that he could not confirm these as it was now before police investigations, and a statement will be released later.

“That I cannot confirm –because police also told me there were some ballot papers they picked up,” he said…we will audit them before polling on Friday,” he said. We will discard those ballot papers and allow them to vote again.”.


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