21 May, 2022, 11:00 am
Niko Nawaikula may have seriously reduced public confidence in Fiji’s democratic system.
This was the word from High Court judge Justice Dr Thushara Kumarage yesterday while handing the former Opposition MP a two-year jail term with a non-parole period of 18 months.
He sentenced Nawaikula to an aggregate sentence of 36 months imprisonment which was partially suspended.
The remaining 12 months of the sentence have been suspended for five years. Nawaikula was charged by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) with one count of giving false information to a public servant and one count of obtaining a financial advantage, contrary to Sections 201 (A) and 326 (1) of the Crime Act 2009.
Justice Kumarage said FICAC had noted that Nawaikula was an MP for seven years, had a responsibility on behalf of his voters on one hand, and a responsibility to the Constitution on the other by the oath of office and allegiance he took in Parliament.
He said it had been argued by the defence that Buca Village was the land of Nawaikula’s father and forefathers and that the money that Nawaikula wrongfully obtained could have been used to provide computers for students like his own grandchildren in the area.
“Or to train more healthcare professionals from Buca Village to provide better health services to the elderly in the village, like his own mother.” In mitigation, Justice Kumarage noted the cooperation of defence lawyer Sevuloni Valenitabua to have significantly reduced the trial time and that Nawaikula had no previous convictions and was an active contributor to the Buca Village community.