Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) commends and strongly supports the call by the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition group Hon. Matthew Wale, public and social media for the Attorney General (AG) Mr. John Muria Jnr to remove himself from dealing with Robson Djokovic’s case.
Mr. Robson Djokovic is the nephew of the Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare, politically appointed by him to the post of Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister. He is also the President of OUR Party the political party that the majority of elected members of parliament joined after being elected 2019 NGE.
Mr. John Muria Jnr was formally politically appointed to the post of Special Secretary to the Prime Minister by Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare and continued in this post after change of government in the 10th Parliament. He is now again politically appointed to the post of Attorney General by the present government. He is a business partner of Mr. Robson Djokovic.
John Muria, (Attorney General), and Mr. Robson Djokovic have been politically appointed to the Board of Directors of the Development Bank of Solomon Islands together with political appointee Mr. Trevor Manemahaga employed in the Prime Minister’s Office. Apart from the fact that this is the revolving door syndrome at work, these connections alone put a strong demand on him to remove himself from dealing with this case. If he does not man up in dealing with this case, it will no doubt compromise the integrity of the Attorney General duties and responsibilities stepping in, as DPP, himself and on the Attorney General’s Chamber. Thus, TSI call on the AG to recuse himself from the case of Djokovic declaring that there is conflict of interest in this case for him or man up and do not spare the rod.
Transparency Solomon Islands calls on the Executive Government to advertise the Director of Public Prosecution post both nationally and overseas. Should there be no suitable candidate in country we urge the Executive Government to have discussion with our development partners for assistance. The country can no longer trust or put up with the cronyism that is now rampant through employment of friends with benefits through the political appointees’ scheme. Enough is enough.
Muria and Djokovic are business partners, owning Clandestine Entertainment Limited. They have been given employment within the public sector via the political appointee employment scheme. The allegations that they have been handpicked by the Prime Minister to be in these positions because of their political allegiances’ does nothing in terms of building confidence, trust in the Executive Government and in this case alone in the prosecution of those that have committed an offence, especially political appointees. It should be a serious concern that Mr. John Muria Jnr as the Attorney General can compromise the independence of his office and that of DPP.
TSI is aware that in the absence of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) the duties and responsibilities of the DPP automatically falls on the Attorney General. These constitutional functions of the DPP are unlikely to be implemented in this case given the relationships that these political appointees have with each other and the Office of the Prime Minister.
Since the DPP post has been left vacant for sometimes now, the AG assumes the role of the DPP as stipulated in the constitution. But the case of Djokovic is obviously a conflict of interest for the AG for reasons quoted here and those revealed by the Official Opposition Leader.
For this case to move forward the AG as acting DPP will have to sign the documents prepared by the DPP office on whether to lay charge (indictment) and prosecute Djokovic or not.
As explained by former AG Mr. James Apaniai in social media the signing of documents brought from the DPP office is merely a matter of formality and can take about 15 minutes, since the AG is required only to read through the documents and sign it. It is now more than 15 minutes and many days since the incidence and report sent for the Attorney General’s action.
The concern of the citizens remains on how long, when will the AG carry out his responsibilities and duties as the DPP. Are his actions going to be influenced by him being a very close friend of Djokovic one asks? Being so close the possibilities and probabilities of AG to do anything in favor of his business partner to downplay the charges laid against him is highly likely in the eyes of the public.
On the other hand, it is equally possible and likely that the AG refuses to sign the indictment for the DPP to pursue the case in court to prosecute Djokovic. This is the reason for publicly demanding that John Muria Jnr recuse himself from dealing with this case or man up for the right reasons applying the law on all regardless of friends with benefits or not.
Hence, TSI fully support the call by the leader of the parliamentary opposition group for the AG to recuse himself from the case of Djokovic, in order for justice to be served and most significantly, upholding good governance and democracy in Solomon Islands where the rule of law prevails.
TSI urges the AG to sign off on indictment of Djokovic brought before him let the DPP office continue with the case, without delay or altering anything.