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I Did Not Do Anything Wrong: Niko Nawaikula

I am not a career criminal, SODELPA Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula told the Anti-Corruption High Court. This was part of his evidence yesterday during the eighth day of his trial before Judge Justice Thushara Kumarage.
12 Apr 2022 10:45
I Did Not Do Anything Wrong: Niko Nawaikula
Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula outside the High Court in Suva on April 11, 2022. Photo: Leon Lord

I am not a career criminal, SODELPA Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula told the Anti-Corruption High Court.

This was part of his evidence yesterday during the eighth day of his trial before Judge Justice Thushara Kumarage.

Nawaikula is charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) with one count each of false information to a public servant and of obtaining financial advantage.

 

He is 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.

Defence lawyer Sevuloni Valenitabua in his opening statement told the court that Nawaikula’s version needed to be heard in the trial.

He will call witnesses to give evidence that the allegations against Nawaikula were not true.

 

He further told the court that Nawaikula paid for his travel and meal which was reimbursed for by the Parliament as he had attended the Parliamentary sittings, committee sittings, workshops, and other meetings he had relating to his work.

Mr Valenitabua said Nawaikula was not a white-collar criminal to adduce financial advantages from the Parliament.

Nawaikula took the stand as the first defence witness.

 

Nawaikula told the court he was born and brought up in Buca Village, Cakaudrove.

He had told his wife that he would move to Buca Village and he had informed the Opposition caucus of his intention.

He said he made this decision because he wanted to reside close to his parents who were living by themselves in the village.

 

Nawaikula further told the court that according to Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) customs, he was to return to his village because he was registered as a native landowner.

He said he had made plans and decided to retire and stay in the village.

He wished to live and die in his village.

 

He also told the court that he had a house being built in his village since 2015 and he wanted to move back to the village to complete the construction.

By then his children were already in their 20s and 30s.

Nawaikula also told the court that he had wished to give their Koronivia property to his children to handle.

 

He further said that after he told his wife and the opposition caucus of his intention, he also told the former acting Secretary-General to Parliament about his decision through a letter.

On April 29, 2019, Nawaikula filled out a parliament declaration form stating his permanent residence was Buca Village in Buca Bay.

Nawaikula also listed his postal address as Savusavu and his wife as next of kin, however, he stated his wife’s residential address as Koronivia, Nausori.

 

He said that he listed his wife’s address as Koronivia because they had agreed not to move together as his mother-in-law was also being looked after by his wife, and he had to set up in Buca Village before his wife could move.

Nawaikula said he made the claims on the basis that he was residing at his village in Savusavu and that he knew that he was entitled to the claims through the Parliamentary Remuneration Act.

He said there were no conditions told to him to fulfill and neither had any of his claims been rejected by the Parliament.

He added that he did not do anything wrong and never gave any false information to the Parliament about his residence or claims.
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