30 September, 2023, 1:31 am Central - 20°C Clouds

Aiyaz is wrong in saying that the coalition government is carrying out unlawful and unconstitutional actions - Richard Naidu
Should we really be taking legal advice from Aiyaz - Naidu

Aiyaz is wrong in saying that the coalition government is carrying out unlawful and unconstitutional actions - Richard Naidu

Should we really be taking legal advice from Aiyaz - Naidu

By Vijay Narayan
Sunday 22/01/2023
Prominent lawyer Richard Naidu

Prominent lawyer, Richard Naidu stresses that FijiFirst Party General Secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is wrong in saying that the coalition government is carrying out unlawful and unconstitutional actions.

While reacting to Sayed-Khaiyum's statement, Naidu says Aiyaz’s FijiFirst Party Government applied the Constitution as it suited them.

He says the previous government never set up the Accountability and Transparency Commission that the Constitution required under section 121, it never set up a Ministerial Code of Conduct as the Constitution required under section 149 and it never set up a Freedom of Information Act as the Constitution required under section 150.

Naidu says Aiyaz's Government treated Parliament, the elected representatives of Fiji’s people, with contempt.

He says almost all of its laws were passed under urgency (Standing Order 51).

The Suva lawyer says typically, Parliamentarians got two days’ notice of what new laws the Government was proposing, sometimes less.

Naidu says that meant no one had time to review the laws or consult the people on them.

He says the FFP government treated the people’s laws as its own property.

The prominent lawyer further says Aiyaz complains about board members being removed and public service appointment rules not being followed.

Naidu says Aiyaz says nothing about the numerous arbitrary terminations of many public servants under the Fiji First Party government, including the Solicitor General, Sharvada Sharma and the Government Statistician, Kemueli Naiqama.

He says it was no less than the Fiji Law Society President who this week described rule of law under the FijiFirst Government as “sometimes hanging by a thread.”

He says against this background, not many lawyers are prepared to listen to Aiyaz lecture us on the law.

On separation of powers, Naidu says under the FijiFirst Party government, this phrase seemed to be thrown around to justify anything.

He says for example, the Parliament Secretariat would frequently refuse to allow Opposition MPs to ask questions of Government Ministers because of “the separation of powers”.

He says this justification made no sense.

Naidu says section 91 of the Constitution requires Ministers to be accountable to Parliament.

He says in layman’s terms, “the separation of powers” means only that the legislature (Parliament), the executive (Cabinet and civil servants) and the judiciary (Judges and Magistrates) should each “stay in their lanes”.

They should not interfere in each other’s functions.

Naidu says Aiyaz has made no specific allegations that the new government has breached this concept, and questions him on what law has been broken.

Naidu also says Aiyaz is wrong in saying the former Constitutional Offices Commission members were unlawfully removed from office.

The lawyer says the Commissioners were asked to resign and they did so.

Naidu says no law prevents them from resigning.

He says if they had refused to resign, they would have remained in place (as others have done).

The prominent lawyer says Aiyaz says that the Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka had “no authority” to ask them to resign.

He says Aiyaz is wrong as nobody needs “authority” to ask anyone else to commit a voluntary act.

He says the former Constitutional Offices Commissioners are not the property of the Fiji First Party.

Naidu also says Aiyaz is wrong in saying that the Minister for Home Affairs should not have asked the Commissioner of Police to resign.

He says it is a free country and the Minister may make any request he wants – and the Commissioner may accept or refuse that request.

The lawyer says the Commissioner refused the Minister’s request, saying he wanted the Constitutional Office Commission process be followed.

Naidu says the Commissioner remains in place and no law has been broken.

He also says Aiyaz should be specific when he talks about the replacement of boards of statutory authorities before expiry of their terms.

He asks which boards is Aiyaz referring to.

Naidu says for a number of statutory bodies the Minister has, under the relevant law, the power to appoint board members.

He says this power generally includes the power to dismiss them.

The lawyer further says replacing boards or board members mid-term is certainly nothing new.

Naidu says Aiyaz may recall a recent example while he was Minister for Housing.

Naidu says Aiyaz requested the entire Housing Authority board to resign before the expiry of their terms (and they complied).

Richard Naidu says Aiyaz has still not explained to anyone how, in the space of three days in January, he got himself kicked out of Parliament by accepting a position on the Constitutional Offices Commission – and then had to resign from the Constitutional Offices Commission when asked how he could continue as general secretary of the Fiji First Party.

The prominent lawyer asks should we really be taking legal advice from Aiyaz based on his actions.

Naidu says the “separation of powers” doctrine is also clear that if you have a problem with the lawfulness of any government action, the courts are there to solve that problem.

He says it is the Courts who decide if anyone has breached the Constitution, not the secretary of the opposition political party.

Naidu says if Aiyaz has a complaint that the law has been broken, he should do what the rest of us do – take it to Court.

He says that is what he frequently told the Opposition to do when it complained about what his Government did.

Naidu says Aiyaz has a little more time on his hands now - he is a qualified lawyer with a practising certificate.

He has told him "So – get on with it. Bring your complaints to court, because that is where they belong."

fijivillage Straight Talk with Vijay Narayan
Latest Videos

Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations

CFL radio frequencies
SCC directs apartment developer to suspend work at Princes Road
Construction work of the apartment blocks along Princes Road has been suspended. fijivillage News has received confirmation that the Suva City Coun...
9 hours ago
Govt forms taskforce to deal with land lease, renewal and premium issues
A taskforce has been formed by the Coalition Government to deal with land lease, renewal and premium issues faced by the farmers and ...
8 hours ago

Koronivia residents raise concerns regarding robberies while DPC East says they are working with the community to address it
Residents in Koronivia, Nausori are calling for more police presence in the community as there have been about 7 robberies in the area while a temple ...
8 hours ago

Thousands of secondary school students attend 2023 USP Open Day
Thousands of secondary school students flooded the USP Laucala Campus to decide on their career path from the informative Vodafone University of the ...
8 hours ago

USP is focused on making sure that students are placed first by getting quality education - USP VC
Under my leadership at the University of the South Pacific, we are focused entirely on being a student-centric University and making sure that ...
8 hours ago

1 in 50 children in classrooms has rheumatic heart disease - Dr Fong
1 in 50 children in the classrooms of Fiji has rheumatic heart disease which is highly common in children from 5 to 15 years old. This was ...
8 hours ago
Bainimarama and Qiliho’s trial
The trial of former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Commissioner of Police Sitiveni Qiliho begins
10 hours ago

EBayShop Online Recruitment scam
The Consumer Council of Fiji has issued a public alert about a group of individuals running a deceptive pyramid scheme known as “EbayShop Online Recruitment.”
5 days ago

7 Grace Road Group executives declared prohibited immigrants in Fiji after decisions by the South Korean Government and a request by Interpol
7 Grace Road executives in Fiji have been declared prohibited immigrants by the Fijian Government, it has been made clear through government ...
5 days ago