He has further directed police to arrest anyone involved in extortion attempts.
Commissioner Baki issued this directive following a recent incident in Hela Province where people from Poroma hijacked 10 trucks and a Toyota 10-seater belonging to Trans Wonderland Ltd (TWL) to force people from Angore to pay a K3 million compensation claim. They claimed this was for a young man killed in a car accident three years ago.
Commissioner Baki said police personnel should not compromise their integrity and must remain neutral when dealing with such highly sensitive and volatile issues.
“In the first place, police should have done their duties and properly investigated the accident three years ago and made arrests if need be. If the driver was found to be negligent then he should have been charged accordingly,” stated the commissioner.
“Police action must take place regardless of whether compensation will be paid or not.”
Commissioner Baki said that two wrongs do not make a right and Police should immediately retrieve the vehicles from Poroma and arrest the people who hijacked the 11 vehicles belonging to TWL.
According to reports, a young man from Poroma was killed when he was run over by a vehicle driven by people from Angore. In a meeting in Tari in April/May this year, the Angore people accepted responsibility and offered to pay K100,000, two cassowaries and 85 pigs as compensation. However, the people from Poroma refused to accept that and made a demand for K3 million.
The 3-year standoff was not resolved until the freight trucks were commandeered and impounded in Poroma, costing operators of the Hides gas project millions of kina.
“This is extortion and must not be entertained. Our role as police officers is very clear and we must not be used in such a manner to extort money from other people regardless of the reasons,” Commissioner Baki said.
The Commissioner said instructions will be issued to the divisional commanders and provincial police commanders to ensure police personnel are not drawn into similar circumstances while conducting their duties.
He said the roles and responsibility of police is to protect lives and properties from criminal harm, not facilitate illegal activities and bring liabilities upon the department and the government.
The Commissioner said due to the upsurge of criminal activities and unnecessary road blocks and demands disrupting delivery of essential services throughout the highlands region, a long term proposal is being considered for the permanent deployment of police and soldiers to routinely patrol the highlands highway to curb such lawlessness.
(Police Commissioner Gari Baki)