Opposition MP Viliame Naupoto says Minister for Home Affairs Pio Tikoduadua is missing the point again, and Tikoduadua has confirmed in his response that he expressed his views to the police on the ground, which is interfering with police operations.
Naupoto was responding to Tikoduadua who has said that he did not interfere with any police operations during the Reclaim the Night March.
In a post on the FijiFirst Facebook page, Naupoto says as Minister responsible for Police, the Constitution states that he can only issue general policy directions to the Commissioner of Police.
He adds Tikoduadua should not be expressing his views to tactical commanders on the ground because, as he mentioned , that is breaking the chain of command.
He says Tikoduadua should be humble enough to admit his mistake rather than taking a defensive approach and, at the very least, ensure it does not happen again.
Meanwhile, Tikoduadua says Naupoto has accused him of damaging the morale and reputation of the Police Force and interfering in its operations during the “Reclaim the Night” march last Wednesday.
Tikoduadua adds the Police issued a permit for the march to take place and the conditions of the permit did not ban the wearing of T-shirts in support of West Papua.
He says there would be no reason for such a ban adding that Fiji is a free country now and people may express themselves (lawfully) as they wish, including on West Papua.
Tikoduadua further says on Wednesday, 8th March, the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Lynda Tabuya, called him to say that the Police were refusing to allow t-shirts in support of West Papua to be worn by marchers.
He says he is accountable to the people for the actions of the Government and the actions of the Police are within his remit.
Tikoduadua adds he contacted both the Acting Commissioner of Police Juki Fong Chew and the event organiser Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali on her phone.
The Minister adds Ali gave her phone to the officer supervising the march and he told the officer that he could not see any reason for the ban on t-shirts supporting West Papua.
Tikoduadua also says the officer said he would have to take directions from his Divisional Commander and he agreed.
He says as far as he knows, the officer in charge of the march received those directions and the march proceeded.
The Minister further says he expressed his views to the Acting Commissioner and the officer supervising the march and he left it to the Police to decide.
Tikoduadua also says Fiji is a different country now, the Minister does not tell people what to do, where there are differences they try to resolve them through discussion and dialogue and that was how they resolved the issue on the West Papua March.
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