NATION

Qiliho: Police Acted For Good Of Vanua

The Fiji Police Force has clarified that it had to intervene in a planned traditional chiefly installation and detain one of the claimants because its main interest was maintaining and
09 Jun 2018 11:19
Qiliho: Police Acted For Good Of Vanua
Ratu Epenisa Cakobau escorted to Police CID office in Suva on June 8, 2018.Photo: Ronald Kumar.

The Fiji Police Force has clarified that it had to intervene in a planned traditional chiefly installation and detain one of the claimants because its main interest was maintaining and preserving the peace.

This was after a team of officers backed by soldiers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces swooped on Bau Island, Tailevu, early yesterday morning and detained Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, one of the claimants for the vacant Vunivalu title, and other “key players”.

Ratu Epenisa, the son of Ratu Sir George Cakobau – the last Vunivalu who died in 1989 – was still in custody when this edition went to press last night.

The operation was carried out after reports that Ratu Epenisa and his supporters planned to install him as Vunivalu despite a decision by the iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission to stop the event from going ahead. 

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho said yesterday that the force had to act for the good of the Vanua, the province and the Kubuna confederacy.

Brigadier-General Qiliho said Police had to act after reports were received that a faction supporting Ratu Epenisa planned to go ahead with the installation ceremony on the island.

He maintained that the force was not overstepping the vanua when it carried out the operation.

“The action was taken to look after the vanua,” Brigadier-General Qiliho said.

He also reacted to questions over the involvement of armed soldiers from the RFMF in the operation. Members of the public posted pictures on social media, specifically facebook, showing soldiers armed with assault rifles accompanying Police officers on the island.

The pictures showed a few landmarks on the island, which is steeped in iTaukei history as one of the first ancient kingdoms in Fiji. Brigadier-General Qiliho said the Fiji Police Force requested the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) to provide armed protection in the event of any confrontation with traditional warriors who had already arrived on Bau.

“Police, however, maintained the lead role in the operation and the few armed soldiers were present for Police protection because we are an unarmed force,” he said.

Meanwhile, reliable sources told the Fiji Sun that traditional warriors from Ra Province arrived on the island on Thursday night, a day before the planned installation ceremony. Meanwhile, at around 10am yesterday, a special church service was held on Bau.

Security is tight around the island as well Bau Landing, disallowing anyone from travelling to the island.

RFMF spokesman Captain Eroni Duaibe reminded the public that they positively responded to the Police request and this was carrying out its constitutional role prescribed in Section 131 (2) – “It shall be the overall responsibility of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to ensure at all times the security, defence and wellbeing of Fiji and all Fijians”.

Captain Duaibe maintained that Police officers were leading the operation.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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