Nawaikula guilty

SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula has been convicted after a high court in Suva said the prosecution, being FICAC, proved beyond reasonable doubt that he gave false information about his permanent place of residence and as a result acquired allowances that he was not entitled to.

Nawaikula was charged with one count of providing false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining financial advantage.

High Court Judge Justice Dr Thushara Kumarage said FICAC proved beyond reasonable doubt that between the period August 2019 and April 2020, Nawaikula lied about his permanent place of residence to the then acting Secretary-General to Parliament Viniana Namosimalua in stating that he permanently resided in Buca village, Natewa, Cakaudrove, when he and his family had a home in Koronivia.

In proving their case, FICAC relied on Nawaikula’s records kept with statutory organisations like the Land Transport Authority, Immigration Department, and the Fijian Elections Office, at least before December 2021, in which he gave his home address as Koronivia. Thus, Koronivia being located less than 30kilometres from the Fijian Parliament, FICAC contended that Nawaikula was not entitled to allowances, amounting to $20,201.35, that he had claimed from the Fijian Parliament.

Under the Fijian Parliament Remuneration Act 2014, MPs are only entitled to claim for travelling and accommodation allowances if their place of residence is located more than 30 kilometres from the Fijian Parliament.

The matter will be heard again in court next Friday, 13 May for sentencing submissions.

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