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Papua New Guinea Police Minister Bryan Kramer, has accused Police Commissioner Gari Baki of protecting “corrupt politicians” by sitting on their files and not investigating them in the past four years.
He was responding to Baki’s statement that he had the files of 40 MPs on both sides of the House to investigate.
Kramer said: “He has been sitting on the files and protecting corrupt politicians. And now he wants to investigate them.
Where was he all these years? He has those files all this time. “In fact, there were more complaints against MPs during his time in office and he has been interfering with and frustrating investigations. He had four years to do that.”
Kramer said Baki should have delegated the investigations of the MPs to other qualified senior officers.
“There are other police officers who can investigate these MPs for alleged fraud or alleged official corruption,” he said.
He said investigation into the 40 MPs “will still proceed”.
Kramer also defended Francis Tokura’s appointment as acting Police Commissioner “in the best interest of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea”.
“His appointment was on merit and to provide stability for a peaceful outcome during the referendum,” he said.
Baki however claimed that the change in police leadership was to “protect those in power”.
“We have investigation files on some 40 MPs in Government and Opposition,” he said.
“This includes a good number of ministers in cabinet. Will the Government give us the support and cooperation to prosecute these cases?” He said the constabulary was only as good as political masters.
“The issue is political will, determination, genuine desire to fight corruption and support for the constabulary,” Baki said.
He said he and his two deputy police commissioners were preparing to exit the police service.
“We are not fighting to hold onto office. But we want to see the police force and officers protected. We want to see the police force free from political manipulation and interference.”
Kramer said Baki’s contract had expired on 07 May thus “he was illegally in office” as there had been no gazettal notice authorising him to act in the position.
“I got the advice from the Attorney-General’s office (last) Thursday and that made me instruct him to leave the office (last) Friday,” he said.
He informed Baki in writing.
“My letter to him was based on the advice I got from the Attorney-General’s office. The advice was that there was no existing appointment (to let Baki continue as commissioner),” Kramer said.
“Former Police Minister Jelta Wong never extended his (contract in an) acting position. Baki himself told me that the National Executive Council had never reappointed him. He referred to some gazette notice which I’m not aware of.”
Kramer also welcomed Baki’s plan to take the matter to court.
“Even he goes to court, that would not put him back in the office,” he said.
“He is over the (retirement) age and is no longer a member of the force.”
Kramer said the terms for deputy police commissioners Raphael Huafolo (administration) and Jim Andrews (operations) expired on 04 July.
“He (Baki) himself issued the notice that both his deputies’ contracts have expired.”
Meanwhile, Police officers must serve the Constitution and not the Government, says Police Minister Bryan Kramer.
He told the 28 cadet officers including six females to be commissioned during a parade at Bomana, Port Moresby last Friday that the Government did not create the positions of police officers.
“The position is created in the Constitution and it is the constitution you should serve,” he said.
He said the Government wanted to improve discipline and command in the constabulary “by depoliticising (it) so that officers can do their job provided under the constitution”.
“I have observed many commissioners and senior officers talking about serving the Government. A police officer is to serve the constitution (which) serves the 8.5 million people of Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“It is the constitution that you will serve.”
He planned to stop political interference into the functions of the constabulary.
“During our term in Government, that practice will change.”
Kramer pointed out that most people were more afraid of the police than criminals.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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