CALCULATING DAILY COSTS OF PROTECTING PETER O’NEILL FROM ARREST
by MICHAEL J PASSINGAN
The Security of the Prime Minister of any country should be concern for the citizens of that country and PNG should not be an exception. Prime Ministers do have a security detail. To my knowledge, prior to August 2011, all the Prime Ministers that PNG had had their security detail. At the most, there would be 5 members of the National Security Unit (NSU) of the Police who would provide security to the Prime Minister. At other times (usually), around two or three officers who would be accompanying the Prime Minister.
Since the issuance of the arrest warrant against Peter O’Neill, his personal security detail had been boosted to five (5) unmarked Toyota land cruisers on average for the last two years. I am reliably told by one of those persons that this around-the-clock protection to Prime Minister O’Neill is offered, not only by the members of the NSU, but other police officers and PNG Defence members.
For the last four seeks since the dramatic arrival of the PM to a heavily guarded airport in fear of his arrest, the security detail has gone up to 7 land cruisers, fully occupied by armed men.
I am reliably told that each one of those close protection officers receives about K1,000 a day. I am told that at least 5 men in each vehicle. It goes without saying that at least K35,000 (K1000x5menx7vehicles) is spent on his security detail in a day. The 7 vehicles are unmarked and hence hired at a rate of K1000 a day which equals K7,000 a day. For a single day, the security detail of the PM is costing the taxpayers of PNG a staggering K42,000+
For the last two years, Peter O’Neill has hired more Queens Counsels than any other Prime Minister in the history of this country, not to assist in resolution of some constitutional controversies, but to help him find a way out of this dragnet (warrant of Arrest). Many prominent Papua New Guinean private lawyers also got involved. They all are continuing to represent the Prime Minister in their pursuit for a break through.
One wonders who is paying for the legal bills. It clearly is not a case concerning the office of the Prime Minister. It is Peter O’Neill’s private criminal case.
I am reliably told that all legal bills concerning O’Neill’s private cases are being paid by the Taxpayers of Papua New Guinea. His sleazy Attorney General Ano Pala is legitimizing those payments by issuing brief out letters to these lawyers hence all payments, though illegal and fraudulent, are now being legitimized in this manner.
I am informed that a silk (Queens Counsel) costs about K5,000 an hour. A PNG senior barrister charges about K2,000 an hour. As we read from the daily news feeds, there is Court activity on the PM O’Neill’s cases happening almost every day and we read about many lawyers involving in these cases to support and advance his cases. My best estimation is that at least K100,000 is spent on a daily basis on defending Peter O’Neill on multiple court cases. You can do the calculations for the last two years since he was on the run. Calculate the costs for its continuation as it undoubtedly seems.
Others not mentioned include all the MPs who are receiving cash from his to keep quiet, media personal (both conventional and social) to be his publicists and spin-doctors, silencing of Union leaders and last year’s SRC Presidents of Uni’s, other police officers who are called to disrupt fraud squad members from advancing the arrest agenda etc…..
My best estimation is that to protect Peter O’Neill on a daily basis, it is costing the TAXPAYERS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA, around K500,000 to K1,000,000. Is it worth it? We are in economic crises and cash flow is really short, yet Peter O’Neill is using the taxpayers’ money to protect himself. For how long will he be allowed to continue? –up to the citizens to decide!
Let alone the destruction to the state institutions and the running down of the economy. Peter O’Neill’s protection from arrest is scoring the highest on our stress curve.