NEWS

Niko Out Of Poll Race

Nawaikula knew he was not entitled to allowances he was receiving: Judge
04 May 2022 12:44
Niko Out Of Poll Race
Niko Nawaikula outside the High Court on May 3, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

SODELPA Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula can no longer contest the 2022 General Election.

Yesterday, Nawaikula was convicted for a count of obtaining a financial advantage and of giving false information to a public servant.

This conviction effectively rules him out of running in the upcoming general election.

Nawaikula was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) to have falsely stated that his permanent place of residence was in Buca Village, Buca Bay, and obtained $20,201.35 between August 2019 and April 2020.

In claiming travel and accommodation allowances, which he was not entitled to, Nawaikula breached the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014.

While delivering the judgment, Anti-Corruption High Court Judge Justice Thushara Kumarage said Nawaikula knowingly provided false information to the secretary-general of the Parliament of Fiji.

The court was satisfied that the element of giving false information to a public servant was proved by prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. In his judgment he said the court had confidently reached the conclusion that Nawaikula knew he was likely to cause the secretary-general of the Parliament of Fiji to authorise the reimbursement of his allowance claims.

Justice Kumarage said Nawaikula never complained about adjustments made to his allowance claims by the Parliament of Fiji’s accounts department.

Justice Kumarage said Nawaikula knowingly falsely stated his permanent residence to be Buca Village, Natewa, Cakaudrove, and as a result obtained $20,201.35 in travel reimbursements between August 2019 and April 2020.

Justice Kumarage said that Nawaikula’s permanent residence was his Koronivia property.

Justice Kumarage added that when Nawaikula was cross-examined by the prosecution, he had stated that he had mistakenly filled statutory forms stating his address as 15 Kilometres Kings Road, Koronivia, Nausori.

He said Nawaikula mentioned he had made a mistake in listing his permanent residence when filling in forms for the Immigration Department, the Fijian Elections Office, and the Legal Practitioners Unit.

Justice Kumarage ruled that Nawaikula’s permanent residence was 15 Kilometres Kings Road, Koronivia in Nausori, and not Buca Village, Buca Bay in Vanua Levu.

He added Nawaikula knew he was not entitled to allowances he was receiving.

Justice Kumarage also noted Nawaikula’s wife Miliakere Nawaikula confidently in her evidence had stated that Nawaikula would return home to Koronivia after returning from his work commitments.

He said prosecution demonstrated before the court that during the offending period, Nawaikula had been residing at 15 kilometres Kings Road, Koronivia in Nausori more than 80 per cent of the time.

Justice Kumarage said Nawaikula knew he caused the secretary-general to reimburse his claims which she would not have done if she knew that his permanent residence was not Buca Village in Buca Bay, Cakaudrove.

He said the prosecution had proved all the required elements on both charges.

Justice Kumarage convicted Nawaikula on the charges of giving false information to a public servant and obtaining financial advantage. The matter will be called on May 13, for mitigation and sentencing submissions. Chief Registrar Justice Yohan Liyanage said he had instructed the Legal Practitioners Unit to attend to the needful for Nawaikula’s practicing certificate in light of the judgment.

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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