A so-called petition to NFU general secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry containing allegations against him and claiming abuse of the Labasa NFU office were brushed aside as unmitigated nonsense by Mr. Chaudhry.
“I have not received any petition although the Labasa members who are reported by the media to have signed it were with me in a 3-hour meeting of the NFU Labasa branch executives yesterday.
“The fact that no petition has been handed to me goes to show that it was a media stunt organised by my political detractors,” said Mr Chaudhry.
The purpose of my visit to Labasa on Tuesday September 30, was to table allegations of abuse of office by NFU’s Labasa branch president, Dewan Chand, who was suspended yesterday.
A number of complaints had been received from members that Mr. Chand was taking money in return for favours he promised. Two members personally approached me, claiming that Dewan Chand had taken $100 from each of them, promising to secure admission for their children to the Fiji School of Nursing.
When their names did not appear among the selected students, the parents confronted Chand who asked for $200 more to “further process the matter.”
I obtained signed statements from these members and questioned Mr. Chand last week about it. He admitted taking the money and promised to refund it but has not done so, said Mr. Chaudhry.
As for comments by Mr. Madhawan Gounder as reported in the media yesterday, let me make it clear that he did not utter a single word of dissent against me in the 3-hour meeting. On the contrary, he was one of the most vocal critics of Dewan Chand and voted, along with the others reported to have signed the so-called petition, to suspend Mr. Chand for abuse of office, said Mr. Chaudhry.
“I have been informed by one of the signatories to the so-called petition that it was hatched in a meeting held at the Friendly North Inn which is owned by Labasa Mayor and NFP candidate for the Labasa Rural Indian Constituency Charan Jeath Singh.
“It is not the first time Charan Singh has resorted to such idiocy to promote his political agenda. Regrettably for him, the whole thing has back-fired in his face,” said Mr. Chaudhry.
He brushed aside as blatant lies claims that NFU funds were being used to finance the Fiji Labour Party’s by-election campaign.
“The NFU and the FLP maintain two separate offices. The FLP office is funded by its MPs in the North.
“NFU funds are separately maintained and audited every year by certified accountants. I invite those who have made this baseless allegation to report the matter to the authorities if they have evidence of the so-called abuse. If they can’t do that then they should shut up and resign as executive members.