MPs face arrest as Janus springs back to life
By Alfred Sasako
A number of members of Parliament face imminent arrest, as the nation’s anti-corruption crack unit – JANUS – sprang into action last week after months in limbo.
At least four Members of Parliament face arrest, sources told Island Sun over the weekend.
The news of the imminent arrest of national politicians is strengthened by reports that Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela has given Police Commissioner, Matthew Varley, the all-clear for the arrest of officials and MPs once police have established sufficient grounds to act.
The timing of the arrest of politicians is not clear, but those in the know say it could happen immediately or later this year after Parliament is dissolved on December 17.
“This is the best timing and the Police Commissioner has been given the all-clear in no uncertain terms to act,” one source told Island Sun on the weekend.
“There were far too many political considerations in the past. It tied down the Police Commissioner’s hands. Now it is a different time, and the Commissioner is free to act independently without fear or favor as provided for in the Constitution,” the source said.
The news of potential arrest of MPs emerged as JANUS – the anti-corruption crack unit – pounced once more.
Last Wednesday, JANUS arrested Lino Houmaha, the Principal Accountant of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and charged him with one official count of official corruption, allegedly involving a $5,000-bribery.
Houmaha appeared briefly at the Magistrates Court last Wednesday when he was charged with one count of official corruption.
Police expect to lay more charges. He was released on bail and will appear in court again on September 12, 2018.
His arrest follows an internal audit of the $4 million funding allocated for the Waisisi Palm Oil Project in West Are Are. The five-year funding started in 2012.
Internal auditors of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury undertook the initial investigation, which police say is continuing. More arrest could follow as police believe Houmaha was not acting alone.