Is the demise of the RSIPF engineered from within?

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By Alfred Sasako

IN the wake of the departure of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2013, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) was more than just an organisation.

It was a hype of activities.

In many ways it was more or less a workshop to continue to remould a new emerging police force in a post-conflict situation.

The idea is to maintain the continuity of the good work that RAMSI has done in its 10-year tenure in restoring law and order in Solomon Islands. Because many old members of the RSIPF were blamed for taking sides based on ethnic line during the ethnic tension, those who engineered the training of the new force of youthful and energetic men and women want to see the new outfit is free of taints from the past.

Ordinary Solomon Islands men and women too were proud of the new RSIPF. RSIPF’s new image was the by-product of years of hard work.

One of the many good things that the RAMSI administration has put in place is the setting up of a Professional Standards Internal Investigating (PSII) unit. Its work, amongst other things, is to investigate complaints against members of the new RSIPF.

There were other internal matters that the public knew little or nothing about.

One of these is the setting up of a new crack unit to investigate national leaders such as Members of Parliament.

Six people were tasked with the assignment. Their mandate is to investigate arrest and charge Members of Parliament (MPs) who have abused their offices by way of misuse of public funds, commonly known as the controversial Rural Development Fund (CDF) grants.

It is estimated that in the seven years to September this year, all 50 MPs have received combined grants totalling $2.215 billion. Despite this hefty investment, there was little to show for it either in Honiara or in the rural areas, where 85 per cent of the population lives.

Members of this crack unit – this Unit is quite separate from what the public know today as JANUS – were hot on the heels of faulting MPs. In 2016 for example, members of the unit interviewed the Member for East Kwaio over the alleged misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars the MP received from the $10 million National Cattle Rehabilitation Project funded by Taiwan.

Investigators travelled to the Kwaibaita River Basin on east Malaita in September of that year. It is public knowledge that Kwaita River Basin in Ward 17 is where much of the $800, 000-plus funding was to have been spent. They came back with fresh evidence, but this was where the case stopped.

Private lawyer, Leslie Kwaiga, said on social media earlier this week that the MP for East Kwaio had been cleared of any crime.

Our investigation found that two key people investigators meant to interview never did, because they never followed it up. In the process, files on the case were reportedly missing, resulting in the investigators taking the usual easy way out.

So while the East Kwaio people still wait for justice, it seems police officers tasked with the investigation had never bothered. Why?

There is a probable explanation for this too.

While investigators were busy working on cases, someone, somewhere deep within the RSIPF had allegedly cooked up a plan, perhaps intentionally to dismantle the crack unit of six senior police investigators.

The dismantling of the unit probably explained why things have come to a snail’s pace in terms of progress.

Only one officer, a Constable, survived the onslaught.

Michael Kemadika led a new group of 14 recruits, who according to sources from within were left to their own devices.

“These new recruits were engaged in largely fund-raising activities,” RSIPF insiders said.

Their leader, Kemadika too had been accused of allegedly using Police Headquarters at Rove for giving election-related pep talks even before he arrested the MP for Savo Russell, Dickson Mua, over a week ago.

“He told the people who came to him of his own plan to contest the Savo/Russell seat because the MP was going to jail,” according to some who had listened to him.

There were serious allegations against police investigators who were digging into cases involving Members of Parliament. In many cases, police officers do not go directly to the MP(s) in question. Instead, they go through a third party.

One officer for example went through an intermediary – in this case an agent who was organising the purchase of a vessel for the MP’s Constituency.

“The officer asked the agent to tell the MP that he (the officer) wants a 60hp engine and a banana boat in return for the case against the MP to be dropped. The message was conveyed but the MP refused to entertain the request.

“That’s bribery and I do not want any part of it. If there’s anything against me, let the police bring out the charge(s),” the MP reportedly told the agent to tell the officer.

There was another case, which involved an incumbent MP and a former MP. Both were approached directly by police officers who asked for large sums of money in return for their case to be dropped.

“Both men refused,” the source said.

Some said there were cases where large sums of money were paid, but it did not stop the case going into the courtroom.

Whoever drew up the plan to dismantle the crack unit of senior police officers appears to know what he or they are doing.

There are growing speculations of mass arrests of MPs in December this year. Some termed it the 17/17 before 17 December this year when the House is dissolved.

If there are none, it might mean substantial payments must have changed hands between now and 17 December 2018.

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