Suspended parliamentarian Ratu Isoa Tikoca has told the Suva Magistrates Court that it was the current Minister for National Security, Defense and Immigration Ratu Inoke Kubuabola that had recommended him to send his youngest son Isoa Tikoca Junior to St Joseph's College, Nudgee in Brisbane, Australia.
Tikoca who is charged with failure to declare his liabilities contrary to section 24 of the Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures Decree took the stand as the first defense witness this morning.
Tikoca told the court that in 2006, Kubuabola who was the outgoing PNG High Commissioner at the time had recommended that he send his son who was at Natabua High School to be educated in Australia.
Tikoca said they met at a hotel in Brisbane for his briefing as the new Fiji High Commissioner to PNG.
According to Tikoca, Kubuabola had said to bring his son to Australia because there was a facility available.
Tikoca said he was satisfied with the recommendation.
Tikoca then told the court that when he asked Kubuabola about the school fees, Kubuabola said the admin accounts officer was familiar with the payment of education fees overseas, specifically in Australia.
While being examined by defense counsel, Kitione Vuetaki, Tikoca said the education fund allocated for Ratu Inoke Kubuabola’s daughter was also continued for his son.
He said he had notified his staff if the same arrangement made for Kubuabola could be made for him in terms of education assistance.
Meanwhile, the first prosecution witness, Former Director Corporate Affairs for the Foreign Affairs Ministry Kelera Nukutaumaki had told the court that Tikoca had used $94,526.73 for his son’s education at St Joseph’s Nudgee College in Brisbane, Australia.
It is alleged that Tikoca failed to declare the liability and the amount of the liability to the Registrar, the Permanent Secretary responsible for Elections that he had incurred to the Government of Fiji during his tenure as Fiji’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea.
The trial continues this afternoon.