Did the Lands Secretary grant six leases to himself?

In the National Gazette for 15th August 2016, the then Secretary for the Department of Lands, Luther Sipison, published a notice stating that he was granting, apparently to himself, substitute leases over six parcels of land at Erap in Morobe Province.

The leases were each for a term of 99 years with no rent payable and no improvement covenant.

The grant of the leases was subsequently evidenced by an entry in the Titles Register Lease Book.

Is this a case of the Lands Secretary granting leases to himself? If so, there are a number of important questions that need to be answered:

  1. Why did the Secretary apparently grant the leases to himself?
  2. How were the rather obvious potential conflicts of interest managed?
  3. Were the proper notices of the intention to grant the substitute leases ever published?
  4. Were all the relevant parties consulted including the landowners and previous lessees?
  5. Are all the relevant documents on file in the Department?
  6. Are the leases still held by Sipison, or have they been subsequently sold or transferred?

But these are not the only questions raised by the gazette notice; there is also the question of why, in the notice, Sipison used the postal address, P.O.Box 644, Gordons, National Capital District?

That postal address is currently being used, and has been used for a number of years by an Indian national, Nazar Hamer Babu Sabjohn.

Mr Sabjohn is a director and shareholder in the company, Zen Investment Ltd. In official company records, the address P.O. Box 644, Gordons is used as a postal address by Mr Sabjohn, the company itself and his co-director and co-shareholder, Zay Moe from Myanmar.

The address has been used by Zen Investments since the company was registered in 2013 and was used as recently as 18 April 2017, in the company’s Annual Return for 2016 [a copy can be viewed below].

P.O. Box 644, Gordons is also the registered postal address for another company, Aariz Investment Ltd. The sole shareholder and director is again Nazar Hamer Babu SABJOHN, who is also listed at the same postal address.

Similarly, Nazar Hamer Babu Sabjohn uses the address P.O. Box 644, Gordons in the records of Auto Care Limited where he owns 15% of the shares and Yumi Traders Limited, where he owns 25% of the company.

Nazar Hamer Babu Sa[b]john is also a director in N.H. Trading Limited. He was previously also a shareholder in the same company.  Again, in the records of N.H. Trading, Mr Sa[b]john uses the address P.O. Box 644, Gordons.

Why, in August 2016, did Mr Sipison issue to himself six substitute leases using a postal address that is shared by the Indian businessman Nazar Hamer Babu Sabjohn?