Commission stops chiefly installation

iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission chairman Ratu Isireli Vananalagi Vesikula and Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs Naipote Katonitabua during the press conference yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE Native Lands Commission considered four factors before reaching the decision to stop the installation of Ratu Epenisa Cakobau as the Vunivalu of Bau which was scheduled to take place today.

NLC chairman Ratu Isireli Vananalagi Vesikula said after meeting with members of the Tui Kaba clan namely Mataiweilagi, Naisogolaca, Muaidule and Naqaranikula on Wednesday, the commission was not able to resolve an internal conflict between the clan members.

Ratu Isireli said the four factors considered by the NLC were:

  • there is a dispute within the chiefly households of the Tui Kaba clan;
  • protocol was breached in the selection of the proposed candidate Ratu Epenisa;
  • the Roko Tui Bau, Ratu Timothy Daniels, had withdrawn from performing his duties in the installation process; and
  • there is a split in the vanua o Bau.

He also confirmed receiving a letter from Ratu Joji Cakobau, the elder brother of Ratu Epenisa, challenging the decision to install Ratu Epenisa as the Vunivalu.

“Basing on the letter received from Ratu Joji Cakobau and the factors that I have mentioned, the iTaukei Lands Act 1905 Section 17(1) confers a discretionary power on the commission to resolve a dispute on the headship which has been brought to its attention,” he said.

He said given that a dispute arose on the island of Bau, the commission acted fairly and reasonably and within its power to stop the proposed installation in order to conduct an inquiry to resolve the dispute and decide on who is the rightful holder of the Vunivalu title.

Ratu Isireli said the NLC would now commence on the disputing process, beginning by using a gazette notice for the dispute of the Vunivalu of Bau title with effect from today.

Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu yesterday confirmed police officers had been sent to the island of Bau to stop the proposed installation.

“Our role is to ensure safety and maintain peace and that the decision by the NLC is complied with,” he said.

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