Baki closes fraud office

The police commissioner has announced to media that he has directed for a temporary closure of the fraud office.

Commissioner Gari Baki says that he has taken the stance to regain command and control of the police force.

He says the decision today by the courts to reinstate Matthew Damaru sets a bad precedence that if any officer is aggrieved by a decision that is made by any commanding officer, he or she can run to the court and stay the decision of the suspension even if the officer has committed a criminal offence.

Baki says this matter is purely administrative and should have been handled as an internal matter within the organisation.

This is regardless of rank from the deputy police commissioner, assistant commissioner or downwards, that authority belongs to the commissioner.

This authority, he says, is vested and clearly defined in the constitution and also in the recent Supreme Court decision stating that the ultimate power of the commissioner, as the superintendent of the police force, rests with him. He would not comment further on today’s decision, explaining that he did not see the documents that have been filed in court or served with a copy of the court decision.

However, he will direct his lawyers to have a look at the documents and then file an application in the same court to ask for this matter to be set aside so that he can perform his role as the head of the organisation. Baki says he is exercising his powers under section 153 of the police force act to direct a temporary closure of the national fraud and anti-corruption office.

This stance is to send a message to all these officers that there is only one police commissioner in this constabulary and that they are accountable to him. Meantime, Baki explains that Damaru and all his fraud officers are now directed to report to assistant police commissioner of crimes Victor Isouve come tomorrow morning.

This is for accountability and responsibilities of duties until this matter is adequately in the court of law.

Directions have also been given under section 136 of the police force act to look at the conduct of the two lawyers, including Damaru and any other members of the fraud squad, whether their conduct amounts to causing factions in the organisation and if it does then they will be charged accordingly.

For now Baki says that all fraud office vehicles and firearms will be removed while the office will be locked up as of this afternoon.

Julianna Waeda