Great success for police


THE idiom ‘Crime does not pay’ holds so true for Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s most notorious criminal Tommy Maeva Baker.
No one in his or her right mind should try to idolise or try to garner sympathy for him nor try to paint him as a “law-abiding hero”.
After some eight years of running amok, robbing and killing, Baker was brought down by the police on Thursday – a good start for the police for 2022.
Baker and his gang have been on the run since 2013.
They are accused of killing five people (including three police officers), conducting a string of armed robberies, and burning down two police barracks and a magistrate’s house in Alotau, Milne Bay’s capital.
Baker has escaped police custody twice in 2016 (Alotau) and 2018 (Port Moresby).
Villages, communities and Alotau town became victims of Baker and his gangs rampaging through to getting innocent people killed.
Already comparisons are being made to notorious William Nanua Kapris who was shot and killed by police in 2013, ending a nearly three-month manhunt.
This was around the same time Baker and his gang started evading police.
Kapris’ hit started around 2008 that involved robbing Bank South Pacific branches in Gulf and Madang and making off with more than K2.4 million; escaping from prison allegedly with support from authorities until he was shot dead.
Kapris had a reward placed on his recapture and so was Baker.
Kapris robbed banks while Baker took his loot from supermarkets.
In the case of Baker, whenever he laid low, his second in command, Michael “Mekere” Yawi, took charge and continued the onslaught that progressively led to his family home razed, sparking a shoot-out between the Baker gang and police in Alotau in 2019.
Last year, a 60-day manhunt, costing the police about K2 million, was launched and about 40 suspects were arrested, including Baker’s mother, aunt and uncle.
In August, police working on intelligence reports moved into the mountains of Alotau, chasing the gang from Rabaraba to Sirisiri and onto Pem before moving inland tracking the gang.
The officers crossed the sea, swam across rivers and climbed mountains for four days until they came upon the gang.
The camp was located between Wakwapu and Gurupwaia villages on a plateau on a mountain with a steep climb up and down from the gang’s camp.
Blocking off all escape routes, police surrounded the gang, the gang of 14 tried to fight their way out.
The sound of gunfire interrupted the tranquility of Alotau mountains as police and the gang fought.
Police moved in, gaining the upper hand, pushing the gang back into their makeshift home before the shooting stopped.
Officers checked on gang members who they thought were injured, instead they found all seven dead.
Yawi was among the seven armed thugs shot dead in a gunfight with police.
Mekere, who was the gangster’s “operations commander”, had been on the police wanted list for the murder of a police constable in 2016 and lawyer Michael Efi in 2019.
It was a great success for police in ending Baker’s reign and that of his second in command and some gang members.
All this now comes to an end now that he is dead.
But rather than celebrate his death, a close tag should be on the next in command.