A planned installation of Ratu Epenisa Cakobau as Vunivalu of Bau on Bau Island today has been stopped by the Native Lands and Fisheries Commission (NLC).
Chairman Ratu Sireli Vananalagi Vesikula, at a press conference yesterday at the Ministry of the iTaukei Affairs boardroom at Nasova, Suva, said the NLC initiated a meeting with the four chiefly households of the Tui Kaba clan (Mataiwelagi, Naisogolaca, Muaidule and Qaranikula) on Wednesday (June 6) to try to resolve their differences.
“Unfortunately no consensus or agreement was reached,” he said.
However, Ratu Sireli said, he received a letter disputing Ratu Epenisa’s installation from Ratu George Kadavulevu Cakobau, his elder half brother, and also considered the following factors:
- That a split was evident within the chiefly households of the Tui Kaba clan;
- Protocol was breached by those selecting the proposed candidate Ratu Epenisa Cakobau;
- The Turaga Roko Tui Bau had withdrawn from performing his duties in the installation process; and
- There was a split in the Vanua of Bau and the Kingdom of Bau.
“Based on the letter from Ratu George Cakobau and the factors I have mentioned the iTaukei Lands Act 1905 Section 17 (1) confers a discretionary power on the Commission to resolve a dispute as to headship, which has been brought to its attention,” Ratu Sireli said.
“Given that a dispute has arisen regarding the chiefly title of Vunivalu of Bau, the Commission in acting fairly and reasonably is within its power to stop the installation in order to conduct the inquiry to resolve the dispute and decide on the headship.”
Ratu Sireli said in exercising the powers vested in him as the chairman of the NLC he had made the following decision:
1) Instructed the Commissioner of Police to stop the installation; and
2) He will now commence with the disputing process beginning by issuing a gazette notice for the dispute for the Vunivalu of Bau title with effect from today.
Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu confirmed to the Fiji Sun that he had sent a team to Bau to relay the decision to Ratu Epenisa.
Mr Tudravu said he would meet the Commissioner of Police, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho, who arrived last night from overseas, to brief him on the NLC decision.