Court To Decide Nawaikula’s Case

Mr Nawaikula’s lawyer Jon Apted, in his submission said the matter was a justifiable mistake and Mr Nawaikula should have been given a chance to correct it.
12 Aug 2021 12:39
Court To Decide Nawaikula’s Case
Former Opposition MP Niko Nawaikula (middle) with two of his lawyers Jon Apted (front), Graham Leung (back) outside the High Court in Suva on August 11 2021. Photo: Leon Lord

Judgment in the case of former Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) Member of Parliament, Niko Nawaikula, challenging the validity of his parliamentary seat being vacant, will be delivered on notice.

Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau had declared Mr Nawaikula’s seat vacant on July 23, after his name was removed from the National Register of Voters.

The case against Supervisor of Elections, Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was called for hearing at the Fiji Court of Disputed Returns before Chief Justice Kamal Kumar and Justice Anjala Wati yesterday.

Chief Justice Kumar said the judgment would be delivered on or before Tuesday next week.

Mr Nawaikula’s legal team Jon Apted, Graham Leung, Sevuloni Valenitabua and Simione Valenitabua filed the case in an expedited form for the case to be heard and concluded within 21 days.

Mr Nawaikula’s lawyer Jon Apted, in his submission said the matter was a justifiable mistake and Mr Nawaikula should have been given a chance to correct it.


Childhood Name

He said the name was given by his parents at childhood and he opted to use that instead of the name on his birth certificate, which was Nikolau Tuiqamea.

He told the court that there was no dishonesty involved.

He said the plaintiff had successfully stood for elections twice and his nomination was accepted twice by the Supervisor of Elections in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

He argued that there was no clear provision for voters to register using the name they had on their birth certificate when he had registered in 2014 and that Mr Nawaikula gave his details in good faith.

Mr Apted said there was plenty of evidence in a media release issued by the Supervisor of Election that in 2019 alone, 11,000 people were allowed to change their details. He argued that the plaintiff was being treated differently from the 11,000.


State Counsel

State counsel Seema Chand said the Supervisor of Elections followed all due process in the removal of the plaintiff’s name from the register.

Ms Chand said the law requires the Supervisor of Elections (Under Section 13) to issue a person with a notice and the plaintiff was issued with a notice.

She said the law requires that the plaintiff be given 14 days to respond to the notice and he was given time to respond.

She added that the law also says that if the Supervisor is not satisfied or dissatisfied with the reasons provided by the person he can proceed with removing his registration.

The court heard that though the Supervisor of Elections did not require a person’s birth certificate during the registration process, it did not mean that a person applying to be a voter could submit a name that was not submitted in their birth certificate.

She argued that it was not right for the plaintiff to accept that he had the right to use his aliases to register at all material times as a voter under the registration of voters act.

Solicitor General Sharvada Sharma in closing said if Mr Nawaikula used the name on his birth certificate to access his bank account it should not have been difficult for him to give his correct name for Voter Registration.




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