Honourable Members, at this juncture, I will now address the House on the issue relating to the seat of the Hon. Niko Nawaikula.
- Section 63(1)(d) of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji (‘Constitution’) expressly provides that “the seat of a member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member … ceases to have the right to be nominated as a candidate for election to Parliament under section 56” of the Constitution.
- Furthermore, section 56(2) of the Constitution lists the criteria for who may be a candidate for an election to Parliament and inter alia provides under paragraph (g) that a person may be a candidate only if the person has not, at any time during the 8 years immediately before being nominated, been convicted of any offence under any law for which the maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.
- Accordingly, since Hon. Nawaikula had been convicted with one count of tendering false information to a public servant under section 201(a) of the Crimes Act 2009 and one count of obtaining financial advantage under section 326(1) of the Crimes Act 2009, he is therefore disqualified from being a candidate in the 2022 election. This is particularly so given that the maximum penalty for the offences that he had been convicted of is a term of imprisonment of 5 years and 10 years respectively.
- As such, the Hon. Nawaikula’s seat in Parliament has become vacant pursuant to section 63(1)(d) of the Constitution which in this instance became vacant on the date of his conviction being 3rd May 2022.
- A written notification of this was provided to him on Friday, 6th May, 2022; and the same was conveyed to the Hon. Leader of the Opposition on Saturday, 7th May, 2022.
- Pursuant to section 20 subsection (1) of the Electoral Act 2014, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission has been notified accordingly.