PNG’s Former AG: PM Must Get Police Commissioner In Line

admin's picture

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG’s Former AG: PM Must Get Police Commissioner In Line Baki too ‘emotionally involved’ to deal with fraud squad: Kua

By Michael Walsh and PNG correspondent Eric Tlozek

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 19, 2016) – Papua New Guinea's former attorney-general says the country's Police Commissioner has become too emotionally involved in the ongoing fracas involving the country's fraud squad and its investigation into the Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill.

Police officers loyal to Police Commissioner Gari Baki locked down the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate office with chains on Monday, after the country's top anti-corruption policeman Matthew Damaru was granted a court order to stop the Commissioner from suspending him.

[PIR editor’s note: On April 20, 2016 PNG Post-Courier reported that ‘There is no split in the police force, says the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. ... The Post-Courier ran a story today on members of the constabulary aligned with Police Commissioner Gari Baki locking the office of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate at Konedobu, NCD yesterday. ... But an official from the RPNGC headquarters told Post-Courier Live this morning that there is no split in the force and the management is only trying to deal with a small number of officers who have no respect for protocol.’]

Chief Superintendent Damaru told the other police he had a court order to return to duty, but said they ignored him, and then threatened to investigate the judge who granted his application.

"We don't care about the court order," police told Chief Superintendent Damaru during the lockout.

"You guys are staying out. We will investigate the judge who granted those orders."

The police loyal to Commissioner Baki then called for reinforcements and a large number from other divisions came to the fraud squad office.

Chief Superintendent Damaru and his officers had no choice but to back down.

Almost two years ago, Kerenga Kua as then-attorney-general was one of the first officials to lose his job after the fraud squad served an arrest warrant against Mr O'Neill.

He told Pacific Beat the Prime Minister should take responsibility for his Police Commissioner's behaviour.

"All roads lead to the Prime Minister's office ... He needs to bring his Police Commissioner into line and advise him that the Police Commissioner is under an obligation to follow an order of the court," he said.

"Right now, the Prime Minister is acting untouchable, and now his Commissioner has learned that behaviour and he's imitating that behaviour in trying to make himself an untouchable person."

Call for rational approach to police stand-off

Commissioner Baki suspended Chief Superintendant Damaru over the weekend, purportedly over an unrelated investigation.

He denied the suspension was due to the fraud squad's recent arrest of Attorney-General Ano Pala, Supreme Court judge Bernard Sakora, and the Prime Minister's lawyer Tiffany Twivey Nonggorr.

But Chief Superintendent Damaru told the ABC the whole conflict does relate to his efforts to arrest the senior officials over a long-running corruption case with links to the Prime Minister.

"We are simply doing our job, fighting corruption at the highest level. Unfortunately our bosses don't see it that way," he said.

Last night, Commissioner Baki called a press conference to explain his dramatic shutdown of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate.

"If the fraud squad are going around, as the way it is at the moment, they seem to think they're untouchable within the organisation of the constabulary. I must put my foot down," he said.

Commissioner Baki said the unit would be closed until the court proceedings were over.

"I'm taking this hard line because I want these officers [to know] that there is only one Commissioner in this constabulary and that is me."

Mr Kua said the Police Commissioner's emotions were clouding his judgment.

"Listening to his voice, he's clearly distraught and emotional. He's not a rational man anymore ... Listening to him over the radio, he's yelling and he's screaming," Mr Kua said.

"In a time of crisis like this, you need your head of the police force to keep his head squarely on his shoulders, be calm, be rational, be cool, be composed, and talk sense and logic, because he leads a group of men that has important consequences to the nation."

Rate this article: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Add new comment