Dramatic day in high court election cases
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
CENTRAL Honiara MP John Moffat Fugui and Northeast Guadalcanal MP Jamie Vokia on Friday lost their seats in two dramatic High Court election petition rulings.
This was after two High Court judges found them both guilty of briberies.
Justice Rex Faukona found Fugui guilty of one count of bribery, where he gave $500 to a person at Green Valley, Honiara, on the day before the National General Election last April.
He however, dismissed two other grounds of bribery against Fugui, who is the Minister for Education and Human Resources Development in the ruling Sogavare Government.
Following the judgment, Justice Faukona said the election of Mr Fugui as MP for Central Honiara was not done in a free and fair manner.
“Consequently, order is hereby made that Fugui was not duly elected or returned, and that his election was void,” Justice Faukona said.
“In consequence, Fugui is hereby disqualified to contest in any by-election should that election was conducted before the date of the next National General Election,” he added.
Justice Faukona further added that the cost of the proceedings is payable to the Petitioner by Fugui.
“The Governor General, as Head of State, be informed of the result of this judgment.”
Fugui’s rival in last year’s election Alfred Efona lodged the petition after losing by 1088 votes.
Fugui won by 4,028 votes.
This was Fugui’s third term as MP for Central Honiara.
In the second case, Justice Emmanuel Kouhota also found first- time MP Vokia guilty of three grounds of bribery.
He ruled that Vokia’s election as MP for Northeast Guadalcanal is null and void.
Vokia was tried on four grounds but Justice Kouhota dismissed one ground of bribery.
Mr Vokia unseated his runner up Dr Derek Sikua 1,835 to 1629 votes, during last year’s election in one of the biggest election result upsets.
Both Fugui and Vokia are members of the current ruling government.
Fugui was the head of the taskforce that that evaluated diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
He was instrumental in the government’s decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.
Vokia was the deputy chair of the taskforce.