NEWS

Ex-Secretary-General Of Parliament Disappointed In Nawaikula, Court Told

She said that most MPs gave their forms on time, however, in Nawaikula’s case she received the declaration in April 2019 declaring his permanent residence as Buca Village in Buca Bay, Cakaudrove.
06 Apr 2022 12:19
Ex-Secretary-General Of Parliament Disappointed In Nawaikula, Court Told
Former Secretary-General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua outside High Court on April 5, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Former Secretary-General of Parliament, Viniana Namosimalua testified saying she was disappointed with SODELPA Member of Parliament, Niko Nawaikula.

She testified in Nawaikula’s sixth day of trial at the Anti-Corruption High Court in Suva, before Judge Justice Thushara Kumarage yesterday.

 

MP requirements

She said the MPs were required to provide a declaration stating their residential addresses in order to hold them accountable and legally bind them.

She also told the court that she had written a letter to all the MPs stating their entitlements under the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014 if they lived 30 kilometres outside of Parliament or committee sittings.

Ms Namosimalua had testified that during an induction ceremony following the 2018 General Election, the declaration forms were given to the parliamentarians which were to be filled and returned within three days after their appointment, however, some of them had returned it much later which were still accepted by the Parliament.

She said that most MPs gave their forms on time, however, in Nawaikula’s case she received the declaration in April 2019 declaring his permanent residence as Buca Village in Buca Bay, Cakaudrove.

She also testified that Nawaikula attached a letter from the Turaga Ni Koro and the landlord of his office space in Savusavu to state his residential address and that he had opened a law firm in Savusavu.

She said she had also received a letter from Nawaikula which was addressed to the Legal Practitioners Unit.

She further told the court that the letter was accepted by the Secretary-General’s office.

She further told the court that the MPs were asked to provide any utility bills as proof of residence which was required, however, she did not recall if Nawaikula had done the same.

Ms Namosimalua testified that a booklet was compiled by the senior officers on MP’s entitlement and was given to the MPs during their induction.

She said the booklet had provided a clear guideline on the travel and accommodation allowance and this was extracted from the Parliamentary Remuneration Act 2014.

She further informed the court that she had written a letter to the Solicitor-General informing him of certain issues brought to her attention in relation to the claims made by the parliamentarians.

 

Concern over allowances

Ms Namosimalua told the court that in her letter she stated that her staff had felt that certain MPs had lived in Suva, but claimed allowances from 30km outside of Parliament.

She said the Parliament staff noticed that certain members made trips to their permanent residence 30km outside of Parliament just before Parliament sittings and filed for claims.

She further said that she got very disturbed and feared that the information she was getting from certain Parliamentarians could be false.

She said that in her letter to the Solicitor-General, she had indicated that she would report the matter to Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC), meet the Parliamentarians individually, and discuss and advise them of the legal interpretation.

Ms Namosimalua said she had seen similar patterns of conduct from other MPs as well.

She also told the court that she always trusted Nawaikula and by looking at the evidence, his residence in Buca Village was not permanent but a temporary stop.

 

Charges

Nawaikula was charged by the FICAC with one count each of false information to a public servant and of obtaining financial advantage.

Nawaikula was alleged to have falsely stated that his permanent place of residence was in Buca village, Buca Bay, and allegedly obtained $20,201.35 between August 2019 and April 2020.

It was alleged that Nawaikula breached the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014 when he claimed travel and accommodation allowances, which he was not entitled to.



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