The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) wishes to clarify and respond to statements issued yesterday by the People’s Alliance Party with regards to the ongoing investigation.
In the statement issued by the People’s Alliance Party Leader Mr Sitiveni Rabuka, he stated that quote “The arrest of The People’s Alliance Deputy Party Leader Dan Lobendahn this morning is outrageous to democratic good governance principles, and is a ridiculous assault on our individual constitutional rights to take part in political campaign activities. On the day pre-poling opens in Fiji, the hurried arrests and detention of one of my deputies by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) for allegations of vote buying, is an attempt to derail our campaign, and muzzle our candidates.” unquote.
FICAC wishes to clarify that the steps taken to question Mr. Lobendahn was part of its usual investigation process to provide Mr. Lobendahn an opportunity to answer the allegations against him. Mr Lobendahn was treated professionally and with due respect before, during and after the interview. The entire interview was video recorded as per the best interview practices. FICAC would also like to reiterate that all processes and procedures under the Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Act were followed in a transparent manner and the allegation of harassment encountered by Mr Lobendhan by FICAC is false.
Furthermore, FICAC wishes to clarify the media statements issued by People’s Alliance Party Secretary General Mr Sakiasi Ditoka yesterday on the questioning of Deputy Leader Ms Lynda Tabuya and the search of her office. FICAC also noted, with utmost disgust, that Ms Tabuya claimed that FICAC officers harassed her 16-year-old daughter. These statements and the allegations are false and misleading.
FICAC officers met her last Thursday 1st December outside FTA Hall at Suva during the Fiji Trade Union Congress Rally and invited her to attend the caution interview. Then she stated that the next day, Friday the 2nd December she needed to attend her daughter’s graduation and she will contact the FICAC Officers to avail herself on Friday afternoon after the graduation. But she never contacted FICAC Officers on Friday and FICAC learnt that she had travelled to Labasa during the weekend. As such, she did not honour her undertaking.
As publicly known, Ms Tabuya was campaigning in Labasa over the weekend and FICAC did not take her in for questioning as claimed by Mr Ditoka. Furthermore, there was no search conducted at her office by FICAC either. FICAC attempted to communicate with her over the weekend but she did not respond. Finally, she sent a text message to the Investigating officer on Monday 05 December and we quote her message and our response here for transparency and clarity.
Lynda: Hello there, sorry for late reply I Will be back in Suva tonight. I will come in for interview tomorrow at 11am. Thank you This is Lynda Tabuya
Investigator: Your text is duly noted Madam. Thank you.
During our communications with her, she did not raise any complaint or allegation of any harassment whatsoever. The investigators treated her and her family members with respect and all communications with them were conducted in a very professional manner.
As such, it was Ms Tabuya who requested to come on Tuesday the 06 December at 11 am for her caution interview and FICAC allowed her request. It was her own request and arrangement to have the caution interview being conducted on her birthday.
Further, few weeks ago, FICAC requested Ms Tabuya to come to FICAC to verify some facts. She came voluntarily to FICAC and said “I am here to be arrested” and demanded her own arrest. FICAC officers politely advised her that there was no such necessity as she was cooperating well with the investigators.
It is unfortunate that the Party and its Deputy Leaders through false and misleading statements attempted to politically sensationalize the investigation.