Shine A Light

Shine A Light: Niko Nawaikula– Loses The Fight, But Not Out

Nawaikula was sentenced on Friday to two years imprisonment for giving false information to a public servant and obtaining $20,201.35 in travel reimbursements between August 2019 and April 2020.
23 May 2022 16:57
Shine A Light: Niko Nawaikula– Loses The Fight, But Not Out
Miliakere Nawaikula says goodbye to her husband Niko Nawaikula outside the courthouse in Suva on May 20, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumarwould

Former Opposition Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula will continue to advocate for the indigenous, marginalised, and less fortunate despite the court’s decision.

Nawaikula made it clear that what has transpired will only strengthen his faith and what he stands for.

Nawaikula was sentenced to two years imprisonment for giving false information to a public servant and obtaining $20,201.35 in travel reimbursements between August 2019 and April 2020.

He was sentenced by High Court Judge Justice Dr Thushara Kumarage in the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court in Suva.

 

The court had ruled that Nawaikula breached the Parliamentary Remuneration Act of 2014.

“The things I stand for, I will not stop,” Nawaikula said.

“I had registered a non-governmental organisation to continue the advocacy.”

“We will not be talking from Parliament, we will be talking from the streets, we will be making petitions, and making submissions.”

 

Nawaikula has made it clear that his lawyer will file an appeal.

Nawaikula is the first serving MP in Fiji to be sentenced for such a crime.

But he believes God is in control of his life and will direct his path.

 

Nawaikula claims the court case had taken away his family’s main source of income.

Mr Nawaikula claims he earns about $90,000 annually, of which $50,000 is his salary as an Opposition MP.

“I don’t have any business now, I can’t practice, I don’t have that firm, I’m totally out, so there’s nothing there for me,” Nawaikula claims.

 

Nawaikula was a lawyer by profession.

He had operated the Nawaikula Esquire law firm in Suva.

He had also opened an office in Savusavu Town.

In an interview, Nawaikula said he would always hold his village close to his heart.

 

“My main aim is as soon as I come out of prison, if I go to prison, whatever happens is to go back there (village).”

“All this politicking is holding me back. I feel free now to do that.”

Nawaikula is a Catholic and his advocacy is linked to his faith.

 

Niko Nawaikula outside the courthouse in Suva after his sentencing on May 20, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Niko Nawaikula outside the courthouse in Suva after his sentencing on May 20, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

His upbringing is the driving factor behind his strong pro-indigenous view.

“Coming from the rural area, it’s very clear from that perspective that you see how indigenous people were disadvantaged, basically by the fact that they own so much of the land and other resources.

“But you can clearly see how other people benefited from that and they are sitting at their homes with all their good hearts and people are taking advantage of it – so that would be the motive for my standing up for the indigenous people.”

 

Nawaikula said he would still advocate for the voiceless.

“Nothing will stop that even if I’m out of Parliament because that has always been within me. I didn’t go to Parliament for any other reason other than that.”

 

PROFESSIONAL LIFE
After attaining his law degree from the University of Tasmania in Australia, Nawaikula started his career in the iTaukei Land Trust Board (iTLTB) as a legal adviser.

Being exposed to international forums and dialogues on indigenous rights fostered his belief in his advocacy.

Nawaikula is calling on people to speak up for the marginalised, indigenous, and less fortunate in society.

 

Niko Nawaikula outside the courthouse in Suva after his sentencing on May 20, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Niko Nawaikula outside the courthouse in Suva after his sentencing on May 20, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

WIFE TELLS
He is from Buca Village in Buca Bay, Vanua Levu. He is the fourth sibling in a family of eight.

Nawaikula has been married to Miliakere for 36 years.

They have five children and five grandchildren.

 

Two of their children have followed their father’s footsteps as legal practitioners.

Miliakere said it was Nawaikula’s simplicity and intelligence that attracted her.

The couple met at the University of Tasmania in 1981, where they had both studied.

 

“Ever since I’ve been married to him, every year we have gone back to the village and he wants his children to know what village life is like, how he grew up,” she said.

In three words, Miliakere described Nawaikula as warm, loving, and simple.

“He is a very honest man, always has a good heart and he reminds his children that we are all the same no matter what.”

After the court’s ruling, Miliakere said she felt what any person would feel if they were to lose a loved one.

 

Miliakere Nawaikula says goodbye to her husband Niko Nawaikula outside the courthouse in Suva on May 20, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Miliakere Nawaikula says goodbye to her husband Niko Nawaikula outside the courthouse in Suva on May 20, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

THE CHURCH
St Vincent De Paul Nausori parish priest Father Eliesa Kaitu said Nawaikula was an active member of the church.

Nawaikula and his family have been part of the parish for more than a decade.

Father Kaitu said Nawaikula dedicated his life to helping parishioners when they sought legal advice.

 

Not only that.

He also offers workshops and connects with the young people within his parish.

“Niko is a very honest man and a lot of things he’s done inside and outside of Parliament deals a lot with the people.”

 

ACQUAINTANCE
Sara Bulutani Mataitawakilai said Nawaikula was the first to bring the justice services to Savusavu by opening an office for his law firm.

Mr Mataitawakilai is the former Citizens Constitutional Forum Chief Executive Officer and former Roko Tui Cakaudrove.

He had always asked for legal advice from Nawaikula.

 

“He is heavily involved with the development in his village.”

“I have seen him come to his village multiple times,” he said.

“He was also part of the Cakaudrove Provincial Company as a legal adviser, hence contributing to the province and its development.”

 

– Five other Members of Parliament face the same charges.

They are Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, Salote Radrodro, Peceli Vosanibola, Simione Rasova, and Adi Litia Qionibaravi, who is sick, and cannot attend court.

Former FijiFirst party Member of Parliament Vijendra Prakash also faces the same charges.

 

WHO IS NIKO NAWAIKULA?
– Attended Kama District School in Tukavesi

– Completed Class 7 – Class 8 at Bucalevu Secondary School

– Did his Form 3 – Form 4 at Napuka Secondary School

– Completed Form 5 – Form 6 at Marist Brothers High School

– Did Foundation studies at the University of the South Pacific

– Received scholarship and studied at the University of Tasmania

 

Shine A Light is the Fiji Sun Investigative Project

 

Read More About What Transpired In Court:

I Did Not Do Anything Wrong: Niko Nawaikula 

Court To Deliver Judgment In MP Niko Nawaikula’s Case On April 29

Former SODELPA Parliamentarian And Lawyer Niko Nawaikula Will Spend 24 months In Prison

 

 

Feedback: ivamera.nataro@fijisun.com.fj



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