Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho says National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad has totally misinterpreted the detention of Bau chief Ratu Epenisa Cakobau last Friday.
Brigadier General Qiliho says this is in particular reference to the involvement of the Fiji Police Force and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) in the operation on Bau Island.
In exercising his powers vested in him as the chairman of the Native Lands Commission (NLC) Ratu Sireli Vananalagi instructed Brigadier-General Qiliho to stop the installation.
However, Ratu Epenisa’s supporters decided to carry on with the installation, even though they were informed of the NLC decision.
That’s why he was taken in by the Police.
“In a statement issued by the leader of the National Federation Party in relation to the events on Bau Island, he castigated the steps taken by the Fiji Police Force with the requested assistance of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces in the interests of preserving peace and maintaining public order, as ‘the height of insolence’ and an act of ‘thuggery’,” Brigadier-General Qiliho said.
He said the Fiji Police was acting well within its jurisdiction prescribed by law under the Public Order Act and not in an arbitrary manner as intimated by the leader of the NFP.
He said the fact that the actors embroiled in the dispute held chiefly titles or that the context was a traditional customary one did not exempt them from the rule of law, which applied equally regardless of their status.
“Should the dissension escalate to actual violence, it will be the Fiji Police Force with the assistance of the RFMF when required that will be held accountable and not the NFP,” Brigadier-General Qiliho said.
It was advisable, he said, that Mr Prasad stayed clear of commenting on issues he had limited knowledge about.
The Fiji Police Force is calling on the NFP to justify the basis in which the party described the actions of the police as amounting to thuggery, which it said had a very specific meaning in the context of the law.