NATIONAL parliament Speaker Jeffrey Nape has vowed to take on the opposition in court, saying he will vigorously defend the case brought against him, The National reports.
After trying for weeks to woo Nape’s support to push through a notice for a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare in parliament, the opposition attacked Nape after realising they would not succeed.
The opposition leaders filed a criminal complaint in court, summoning Nape to answer for alleged breach of the constitution on July 20.
The claim was in relation to Nape presiding over the proceedings of parliament on July 20 and certifying four legislations when he was the acting governor-general.
Nape issued a statement yesterday, saying: “I have been advised by my lawyers that the court action instituted against me by Sir Mekere Morauta is fundamentally flawed in a number of aspects which I will challenge in court.
“Firstly, as a veteran politician and lawmaker, Sir Mekere should know that, as a member of parliament and a party and witness to the case, I cannot be served with court papers within three days to or after the date appointed for parliament to sit. That is prohibited under the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act,” Nape said.
“Parliament was set to reconvene on Tuesday, Nov 16. I was served with court documents on Wednesday (Nov 17), one day after the time appointed for parliament to sit. That is clearly illegal.”
He said he would vigorously deny that section 95(4) of the constitution was breached.
Nape said Sir Mekere was abusing the court process by seeking criminal penalties and sanctions against him in aid of a civil claim for civil remedies against him in court.
“That is unlawful and highly improper.
“Sir Mekere is, in fact, usurping the powers of the police and public prosecutor by seeking criminal sanctions against me. There is no basis for this.
“That is a politically motivated action and Sir Mekere should be experienced enough to leave political issues outside of the judicial process to stop wasting the time of the people’s court.”
Nape was supported by Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina, who said the criminal proceeding was defective.
Maladina said any criminal proceeding should be brought by the state and its instrumentalities, and not individuals.
He said under section 6 of the Parliamentary Privilege Act, any member of parliament cannot be called in as witness three days before and after the parliament sitting.
Sources in Waigani said the move against the speaker showed the frustration felt by the opposition in its bid to remove Sir Michael in a vote of no-confidence before the “window of opportunity” closed.
“The opposition has been courting Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye, United Resources Party leaders William Duma and Anderson Agiru and Nape.
“And, the answer they got is ‘no’ from these leaders,” a source said.