SIR KULUNGA SEEKS REINSTATEMENT AS POLICE COMMISSIONER

By BRYAN KRAMER

Former Police Commissioner Sir Thomas Kulunga has filed an application for leave for Judicial Review against the decision of the PM & National Executive Council (NEC) that terminated/retired him from office.

Kulunga's lawyer filed an urgent application in the National Court last week, but was only listed this morning (24/7/14) after short service on the State. Kulunga is seeking to be reinstated as Commissioner of Police. The central grounds of his case is that his termination/forced retirement by NEC was without proper cause nor was he given the right to be heard.

Judge Gava-Nanu adjourned the matter to 7th August 2014 after the State failed to appear in Court.
This recent development may chuck a spanner in the works in the PM's efforts preventing police from arresting him. If leave is granted and stay on Vaki's appointment then Kulunga may re-assume office and consolidate the force.

It was Kulunga who wrote to the PM on 16th June 2014 requesting he make himself available for a formal record of interview.

In the letter, Kulunga said: “With the greatest respect to yourself and your esteemed office, I refer to the above and request your attendance at the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate at Konedobu, National Capital District for a formal record of interview at 11.am or 1pm on 16th June. The interview relates to the allegations of fraudulent payments made to Paul Paraka Lawyers between February, 2014 and May 2013. The investigations were carried out at your request through Prime Ministerial Directive issued under your hand dated May 13th, 2013. Pursuant to the requirements of law, a warrant of arrest has been issued today, ordering police to arrest you. A copy of warrant of arrest dated June 12, 2014 is enclosed here in for your reference. You would note that a warrant is a court order demanding police to affect your arrest. It would help if you could make your way to the nominated time and place for a forma record of interview and answer questions that would be put to you formally.”

On the same date Kulunga wrote to the Police Minister Robert Atiyafa that he was taking special leave effective 18th June 2014 until Monday 4th August 2014 and Deputy Commissioner of Police Simon Kauba will perform duties as acting police commissioner.

But on 17th June 2014 the PM announces that “Cabinet has taken the decision to retire Commissioner Kulunga now under the circumstances" and appointed Geoffrey Vaki as Acting Police Commissioner.
In retrospect it was Vaki who initially challenged his termination in the Courts by way of Judicial Review in 2006 when he was then the Deputy Commissioner of Police. In the end the Court upheld his case on the grounds Vaki was terminated by NEC without a valid excuse prematurely made, unreasonable and not a good reason. The decision was also contrary to his Contract and ultra vires the Police Act 1998. Kulunga failed to execute the Courts orders to reinstate Vaki. Vaki then prosecuted contempt charges against Kulunga resulting in his conviction and 7 months sentence for hard labour. Kulunga filed an appeal and obtained a stay on his sentencing. He is currently out on bail while his appeal is being heard in the Supreme Court. Ironically Vaki is now also facing two contempt charges that’s currently before the Courts.

If Kulunga is reinstated he will have the command of the Force and although the National Court stayed the arrest warrants against the PM in relation to the Paraka-gate issue this does not immune a person from being charged on other allegations.

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