“NOT ALL OF US ARE AS BLIND AS BAKI”

by JOHN STEWARD

In a remarkable turn of events, and right under the watchful eyes of all thinking Papua New Guineans, the Police Commissioner eliminates almost all potential risks at the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate, by suspending the Director Matthew Damaru, his Deputy Timothy Gitua, another senior office Joel Simitab and other officers who may have been seen solidly supporting their bosses to pursue the arrest of Prime Minister O’Neill in relation to Paul Paraka Lawyers fraudulent payments.

Commissioner Baki, in a lengthy media statement attempts to justify his “weekend” actions but not many will be convinced in light of the chain of events leading up to Baki’s decisions. I have gone through the various events leading up to the actions of Baki and here is what I have compiled. (All these events are publicly reported in various media forums if you have been following),

On the 5th of April 2016, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed James Marape’s appeal to the Supreme Court on a taxation case. Various interim restraining orders that prevented Minister Marape’s arrest and the arrest of Prime Minister O’Neill as well as others were also discharged by that decision.

The Prime Minister released a statement, welcoming the decision but then makes this remark as reported by PNG Loop ““The case relating to legal fees for the Paraka matter remains outstanding before the court through a judicial review by Senior Judge, Justice Bernard Sakora, which also reaffirmed that the warrant of arrest be stayed until the judicial review is heard.”

Obviously, his fate was hinging on Justice Sakora. He took out a paid advertisement mentioning the Sakora order for stay.

Bryan Kramer, one of the favoured commentators on facebook, dissected the Supreme Court decision and further hinted that the Prime Minister could be arrested for charges other than the charge of Official Corruption which is currently stayed by the Sakora Orders.

Fearing the foreseeable arrests, Ano Pala filed a Supreme Court Reference and sought some kind of stay orders entangle all other cases with a further road block. The Prime Minister also filed a slip rule application to overturn the decision to discharge the interim restraining orders. 

The Supreme Court decision removed the road blocks and allowed for Police Fraud Squad members to pursue pending investigations which resulted in the arrest of Justice Sakora and Tiffany Twivey on 11th April 2016, followed by the arrest of Attorney General Ano Pala on 12th April 2016.

The Commissioner of Police was in country but was completely silent and did not make any public statements concerning the high profile arrests. May be the commander in charge of him was out of reach and he had to wait for instructions before reacting to the arrests.

The arrest of the three high profile figures did send shockwaves to the country but more specifically to O’Neill and others who have outstanding charges to answer.  Rumour and speculation was high that the Prime Minister who apparently was out of the country, was going to be arrested at the Jacksons Airport as well upon his return.  Reacting to the fear of arrest, the PM of our country jetted into Jacksons airport under heavy police presence on the night of 13th April 2016 as if there was a war in the country that posed a real threat to his life.

The Police Commissioner made sure that there was heavy police presence and he was personally at the airport to give the PM an unorthodox reception back into the country.

The following day, 14 April, Commissioner Baki releases a statement which was published by Post Courier in the front page with the title “Baki Slams Arrests” on 15 April. He condemned the arrests of the three persons, claiming there were incidents of harassments and abuse. The National newspaper however runs a countermanding story to Baki’s claims, at least concerning a complaint by one of those persons who’s known for her over-charged emotional dispositions. Justice Makail said Ms Twivey should not seek special treatment.

The assertions by Baki were further watered-down by Justice Sakora’s acceptance of the charges and voluntary stepping down from office. Minister Pala also accepted the charges and said that he is a law abiding citizen and he will follow the process. Those stories were run in both the National and Post Court newspapers on 15 April 2016.

On the morning of same Friday 15 April 2016, the Supreme Court comprised of five men bench refused to grant the Prime Minister some interim stay orders he was seeking. In the afternoon, the Chief Justice lists the Prime Minister’s Slip Rule application on express court track to be expedited with speed.

In the afternoon of 15 April 2016, the Prime Minister responds to a question posed to him at a media conference he held at his office. The question relates to his arrest. According to the Prime Ministers Office PNG facebook page, a transcript of what he said appears and the following excerpts are reproduced:
“I will let the Police Commissioner to make comments as he has done in the Post-Courier…… We cannot have a vigilante style of police operation in the country, and it is up to the Police Commissioner to take appropriate actions that he sees fit. He is the one that has been tasked by the constitution as the ultimate power of running the police force,”

The appropriate action that the PM wanted Commissioner Baki to take is to get rid of what the PM and his spin-doctor Susan Merrell described as ‘vigilante’.

The Commissioner of Police hastily implemented the direction to eliminate the imminent threats at the Fraud Squad by removing the ‘vigilante’. Though the directive and announcement by the PM came in the afternoon, this is a matter of urgency and the Commissioner couldn’t wait until Monday.

He suspended Mr Damaru on Saturday and on Sunday announced the suspension of the balance of the officers at Fraud Squad. He conveniently replaces with officers who are known for their brainless execution of orders to perpetrate illegal actions. For instance, Is Jacob Ivaroa the guy who went and assaulted Mr Damaru and arrested and charged him in relation to the Paraka and PM’s cases? Now he is the Deputy Director of Fraud Squad.

The Commissioner’s actions and media release has the fingerprints of the Prime Minister all over. The importation of the words used by the PM and the way they are effected by the Commissioner echo the PM’s voice.

So now tell me if the Commissioner’s emergency actions to suspend Gitua, Damaru and others over the weekend, immediately after the PM’s attempt to stop his arrest are failing, is a random and isolated administrative to restore command and control.
 
I have every reason to believe that the two coppers who’ve just been appointed as director and deputy director of fraud squad are going to demand the keys to the office or worse, break and enter. These guys are there for one thing and that one thing we all know –tempering of sensitive files concerning high profile figures. Once they assume control, they can decide whether to investigate or not to investigate. They can temper with evidence etc.

This is the madness that Papua New Guineans should be taking it to the streets instead of loud mouthing on facebook. I am amazed no one has the guts to do something like that. Damaru and Gitua are simple police officers, fighting to protect all of us and our common interest. They stood up for us. When will we stand up for them when it really matters? Remember, everybody has family to feed, interests to protect etc… but do you ever consider these two guys and others in the Fraud Squad and Taskforce sweep whose livelihood and jobs are at stake because they stood their heads out for all of us in circumstances where there seems to be a one way traffic of evil by this corrupt government? If you don’t know the facts, I have spent my time to cascade them for you to follow.