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By Julia Daia Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 8) – A senior Papua New Guinea foreign affairs official and several others have been charged with allegedly helping foreigners enter the country illegally through Vanimo in Sandaun province.

[PIR editor’s note: Vanimo is a coastal town near the northwestern border of Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian province of Papua.]

One official even escorted a Pakistani across from Jayapura in [Papua] and put up the man at his official residence. The Pakistani, Sheik Abdul Adnan Wahid, was ordered deported in 2004 after he was found to be in possession of a PNG passport. He then obtained a restraining order pending a review of the deportation order.

Wahid left the country last December and tried to return on Feb 15 but was turned away by border officials.

Sources said he returned again on Feb 23 with the Foreign Affairs official and was allowed into the country.

They said Wahid had a business visa issued by the consul-general in Jayapura, Mr Geoffrey Toulobe.

Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) chief David Sode said late yesterday that he was aware that one of his officers had been charged in connection with Wahid’s return.

"We are taking a thorough look into the situation. I am definitely trying to get to the bottom of it. Wahid will not be allowed to get away with this," he told The National.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Gabriel Pepson’s office said it was investigating and would issue a statement "in due course".

The sources said Wahid’s case suggested a lack of effort on the part of immigration officials to enforce the laws.

Wahid was found guilty by a Port Moresby court in 2000 of unlawful possession of a PNG passport.

He tried to fly to Cairns, Australia, en route to the United States but was stopped by Australian authorities and returned to PNG where he was charged.

Sources said Wahid was only fined.

"No action was taken to deport him until September 2004 when deportation orders were issued," said a source. Two months later, he obtained an injunction against his deportation pending a review of the order.

Some officials, who declined to be named, blamed the situation on the Foreign Affairs Department for failing to form a committee to review the deportation order.

"It is up to us again to commit minimum State resources to chase after these persons when they breach their conditions and flee to other parts of PNG," said one official.

March 8, 2006

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