Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Former defence chief exonerated of claims of 'stealing'

Papua New Guinea Defence Force chief-of-staff Captain Tom Ur says former PNGDF commander Peter Ilau has been hard done by both the administration of the PNGDF as well as malicious comments made against him in the media.

Capt Ur said this when commenting on today’s articles in The National about Comdr Ilau and his family being dumped by the government and organisation which he had served loyally for 34 years.

He agreed that the PNGDF, particularly secretary Fred Punangi, had failed in its obligation to pay for Cmdr Ilau’s three-month transition as normal for outgoing PNGDF commanders, which allowed them to prepare for a life after the military.

Capt Ur was also disappointed that another former PNGDF commander, Maj Gen Jerry Singirok, had accused Cmdr Ilau of removing household items from Flagstaff House as well as illegally holding on to an expensive Hummer vehicle.

“I don’t want to comment on the contracts of former commanders, however, it’s a normal process that we look after our commanders for three months,” he said.

“The secretary (Mr Punangi), in his wisdom, cancelled the cheque that was supposed to have been paid to Cmdr Ilau.”

Commenting on allegations that Cmdr Ilau had removed household items from Flagstaff House, Capt Ur said these were not true, as Cmdr Ilau had cleared out in a rightful manner and most of the said items were being stored in a shed.

Moreover, he added, most of the household items were very old – having been passed from one commander to another – and were “not worth stealing”.

“I believe that he (Cmdr Ilau) went through the normal process (of clearing out),” he said.

“I talked to the Cmdr and he’s very upset about the allegations.

“I feel sorry for the (Ilau) family.

“The media painted the picture that they ransacked the whole place.”

Cmdr Ilau said today that he was told over the weekend that Flagstaff House had been broken into since he left and that certain people had regular access to the building.

He said PNGDF staff had also advised new commander Brig-Gen Francis Agwi not to move in to Flagstaff House until it had been renovated, and not because household items had been “stolen”.

“I think they were not advised of the break and enter,” Cmdr Ilau said.

“They should have checked the house after we left and left some soldiers to guard the place.”

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