Peace award named after late student

A Divine Word University student who makes a significant contribution to “peace and harmony” in the community will be given an award named after Nigel Laki, the student who was murdered along a street of Madang town on Friday 14th March, 2014.

DWU President Fr Jan Czuba announced the award during the funeral mass for the late student at the St Joseph Freinademetz Chapel on Wednesday 19th March, 2014.

Fr Czuba said the Nigel Laki award for peace and harmony is a small step towards liberating the streets and neighbourhoods of Madang and PNG from mindless crime perpetrated by a minority.

He said PNG society is constantly being held to ransom by a minority who are engaged in criminal activities and this must be addressed by all concerned people.

“We cannot live in cages by building more metal fences and putting up barbed wires around us.”

“People must have the right to move around freely on our streets and carry on with their normal activities without fear of being attacked.”

“We must collectively do something positive about the crime involving a minority in our communities,” said Fr Czuba.

It is the first time a DWU student has been killed on the streets of Madang.

Nigel died after he was stabbed in the chest by someone with a sharp implement along Niu Street in the Nabasa suburb as he was walking with a relative back to his (relative’s house) after being to the Tri-Lain shops with other friends at 7.20pm on Friday 14th March, 2014.

Fr Czuba said the Nigel Laki award will be presented during the annual Missioning Ceremony for final year under-graduate students in October.

The award is among measures the DWU is taking to assist in addressing crime and social issues in the tourist town following the killing of Nigel, who was a third year Communication Arts (Journalism) student.

On Tuesday 18th March, 2014, DWU hosted a meeting of heads of educational institutions and other organisations where the governor of Madang Province, Honourable Jim Kas announced the formation of a law and order committee to identify and recommend solutions to the social problems to his government and other authorities to take action. Mr Kas appointed retired Chief Justice and former governor of Madang, Sir Arnold Amet to chair the committee.

Sir Arnold has since announced that the committee made up of representatives of different sectors in Madang has been formed and it would have its first meeting on Tuesday 1st April, 2014 at the DWU campus.

Fr Czuba said these were initiatives being taken so that something positive comes of Nigel’s death through street crime.

“DWU community would like to make sure that following Nigel’s death due to crime, something positive can come out of it for the good of the Madang community and PNG as a whole,” said Fr Czuba.

Retired PNG Defence Force officer, Lieutenant colonel James Laki, uncle of the late Nigel said in his eulogy that his step-son had a promising future in the field of communication (journalism) that was denied by the incessant crime in PNG’s streets. He said Nigel was a victim of wanton crime that has been allowed to fester for too long in PNG society. Lt Col Laki said lack of employment and economic opportunities for so many people has left behind about five generations of Papua New Guineans since independence whereby some end up engaging in illegal activities in society.

He said something serious has to be done and he suggested it should start with a significant emphasis on early childhood education where children are taught at early age to respect other people and refrain from violence and bad behavior.

Fr Czuba said quick action by police in Madang resulted in the capture of four suspects relating to Nigel’s murder by Monday 17th March, 2014. Fr Czuba said one of suspects was picked up by police in the port city of Lae. He said the suspects are in police custody. Fr Czuba commended the police led by provincial police commander, Superintendent Sylvester Kalaut for their professionalism and quick action.

Nigel’s body was flown to Port Moresby on Thursday 20th March, 2014 to be with his family before it is taken to his father’s native Malu village in Pagwi, East Sepik Province. A convoy of vehicles with students and staff members escorted Nigel’s casket to Madang Airport before it was flown to Port Moresby. The final farewell at the airport was an emotional moment where students wept openly for their colleague as the casket was carried across the tarmac to the waiting Air Niugini F100 jet plane.

Director of Student Services, Mr Steven Namosa and president of the Student Representative Council, Mr Yama Michael represented DWU and accompanied Lt Col Laki and Nigel’s casket to Port Moresby where they delivered the body to his family.