By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
POLICE Minister Bryan Kramer, on legal advice from State lawyers, has instructed Gari Baki to vacate the police commissioner’s office as his contract had expired in May.
He has appointed Deputy Commissioner Francis Tokura, currently the Bougainville Police Service commander, to be the acting police commissioner.
Tokura will be assisted by assistant police commissioners Joanne Clarkson (administration) and Peter Guinness (operations).
Kramer said Baki’s contract had expired on May 7 thus “he was illegally in office” as there had been no gazettal notice authorising him to act in the position.
“I got the advice from the Attorney-General’s office (last) Thursday and that made me instruct him to leave the office (last) Friday,” he said.
He informed Baki in writing.
“My letter to him was based on the advice I got from the Attorney-General’s office. The advice was that there was no existing appointment (to let Baki continue as commissioner),” Kramer said.
“Former Police Minister Jelta Wong never extended his (contract in an) acting position. Baki himself told me that the National Executive Council had never reappointed him. He made reference to some gazette notice which I’m not aware of.”
Kramer also welcomed Baki’s plan to take the matter to court.
“Even he goes to court, that would not put him back in the office,” he said.
“He is over the (retirement) age and he is no longer a member of the force.”
Kramer said the terms for deputy police commissioners Raphael Huafolo (administration) and Jim Andrews (operations) expired on July 4.
“He (Baki) himself issued the notice that both his deputies’ contracts have expired.”
Meanwhile, Baki plans to take the matter to court.
“The reason for my decision is because as far as the senior police leadership and I are concerned, due and established processes for appointments were not followed by Police Minister Bryan Kramer (in the appointments of Tokura, Guinness and Clarkson),” Baki said.
“At the outset, let me state for the record that this action is not intended in any way to discredit the three officers who have been appointed in acting capacities.
“They are experienced police officers who are more than qualified to occupy these offices.
This action is taken to protect them as well as the other senior officers of the constabulary.”
Baki questioned why the Government did not appoint Tokura, Clarkson and Guinness to substantive positions instead of in acting capacities.
“All appointments whether temporary or substantive shall be made by the Head of State, acting with and in accordance with the advice of the National Executive Council given after consultation with the Public Service Commission and any appropriate Permanent Parliament Committee, which in this case is the Permanent Parliament Appointments Committee,” he said.
By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK