Campaign for Justice (C4J) is calling on the Secretary of the Commission Of Inquiry (COI) into illegal logging on Santo to resign.
The C4J has formally written to the Minister of Justice, Esmon Saimon to request the resignation of a member of the COI, namely Livo Mele as the Secretary.
The COI was recently established by the government to look into allegations of illegal logging of timber, especially Bluewater and other hardwood trees within VATHE; Vanuatu’s largest conservation area in Big Bay.
“According to our own investigations and information, Mr. Mele may have a serious conflict of interest as the former Director of Agriculture and may be directly implicated in the inquiry, and in fairness to the COI, we ask that Mr. Mele relinquish his position as Secretary and member of the inquiry team,” C4J stated.
The team initially comprised C4J’s Investigator Willie Alick Pakoa, former President and Lawyer Kalkot Mataskelekele, former Member of Parliament Albert William, Flora Bani, George Borugu, Jeff Patunvanu and William Nasak as the Chairman.
Since then, C4J representative Mr. Pakoa has relinquished his position, as C4J was perceived to have a conflict of interest as the initial complainant in the illegal logging saga.
“We are of the strong view that there is a much more plausible and serious and serious conflict of interest for Mr. Mele to account for, as our initial investigations have shown,” C4J said.
C4J confirmed to Daily Post that the agency was the first to request the Council of Ministers through the Minister of Justice to approve the COI to investigate the illegal logging saga.
Vice Chairman of the COI, George Borugu told Daily Post that Mr. Mele is only the secretary of the COI, adding Mr. Mele hasn’t sworn any oath from the Commissioner of Oath and his opinion will have no influence on the report.
But C4J disproved Mr. Borugu’s statement, maintaining Mr. Mele will have an influential contribution on the report.
“Furthermore, the COI report will be table in Parliament so to preserve the Commission’s integrity, we recommend that the minister responsible seriously consider our humble call; there is still time to do so without seriously compromising the final outcome of the inquiry,” it stated.