By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
PAPUA New Guinea’s most notorious and wanted criminal Tommy Maeva Baker and his gang have terrorised Alotau town since 2012 and must be stopped at all costs, Alotau MP Charles Abel says.
“Our town has been under siege for eight years despite all efforts to bring back normalcy, peace and harmony by promoting a law-abiding society,” he said.
“Yet, we have been attacked and a police barracks was burned down on April 29. (Another barracks was also destroyed in 2019).
“Businesses have been ransacked, vehicles stolen and town residents traumatised.
“And Baker has been captured but escaped three times from Gililigi Prison in Milne Bay and Bomana Prison in Port Moresby.
“So how can I provide infrastructure like road and, communications, education scholarship, agriculture support, visit villages and settlements, support law and order when criminals cannot be captured, prosecuted and jailed?
“Or if they are captured, they can escape easily. What can we do?”
Abel brushed aside reports that the Baker gang was able to continue terrorising the town because of local political differences.
“Forget all the politics and blaming each other,” he said.
“The problem is we have an organised gang that is determined to get away with breaking the law.
“Simple. It does not matter what our grievances are, we cannot steal, rape, burn and kill (three policemen, a provincial legal officer, one security guard, and an Alotau enterprise staff member).
“And I am the most accessible and understanding leader you can find.
“I work seven days a week trying to help everyone from villages to settlements.
“There is no excuse in the world to destroy our town like this.”
Abel said during April 29 gun battle with police, high-powered weapons were used and more than 100 youths were involved.
“It was a highly organised attack once again (just like the March 18 guns battle and the February 2019 burning down of Misima barracks).
“And I have called for a state of emergency because this was not a minor robbery, or law and order incident.
“This was an attack on all of us and the State of PNG.
“Police Commissioner David Manning, who is also the Covid-19 National Pandemic Response Controller, has responded to the attack by sending 30 policemen and an army contingent is also being assembled for duty in Alotau.
“And I am not the Governor. I am only one of the five MPs from Milne Bay.
“But as the Alotau MP, I say that it cannot be business as usual.
“Some tough decisions have to be made.
“None of us want to have unnecessary forces in the province but we have no choice.
“I have no command over the police or army but I will do my best with the provincial law and order committee to work with the Commissioner and provincial commander Supt Peter Barkie to try and ensure common sense prevails.
“Let us cooperate and support the police so that they can do their job and return to their homes and families as soon as possible and we can be also with our normal, peaceful selves.”
By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK