FICAC stops Saneem; FEO refers him to FICAC

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Mohammed Saneem. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Former supervisor of elections Mohammed Saneem was stopped from leaving the country yesterday at the Nadi International Airport.

He was stopped after he was referred to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) for alleged abuse of office and for corrupting benefits given to, or received by, a public official offences.

Mr Saneem’s stop order was confirmed by Immigration Minister Pio Tikoduadua during an interview yesterday.

“I had spoken to the director of Immigration who has confirmed to me that Mr Saneem was stopped at Nadi,” he said.

“I asked her why?

“She said it was because there was a travel restriction on him that was imposed.

“I don’t know exactly, not from me, not by the police. I can tell you for sure but because of an allegation that is now under investigation by FICAC.

“That is all I know, officially.

“So that was the reason he was stopped. That is the law.

“Agencies, like police, can put out a person of interest, FICAC can do that, FRCS can do that and I believe on this occasion, FICAC has done it.”

Responding to a query, a spokesperson said: “FICAC can confirm that we are investigating the matter and can also confirm the stop departure.”

The FEO issued a statement yesterday saying a complaint was lodged with FICAC as Mr Saneem was alleged to have authorised the payment of allowances to Electoral Commission members for attending events other than meetings.

It alleged that Mr Saneem had, on numerous occasions during his tenure with FEO, unlawfully authorised payments of sitting allowances to members of the Electoral Commission (EC).

“The Constitutional Offices Commission (COC) had clarified to Mr Saneem that the allowance for the chairperson and members of the EC remained at the same rate of $500 per person, per meeting,” the FEO said.

“However, Mr Saneem continued to give instructions for sitting allowances to be paid to the chairperson and the members for attending events other than meetings, including social functions.

“According to Section 5 of the Electoral Act 2014, it specifies that meetings must be held at such place and at such times as determined by the chairperson or a majority of the members of EC.”

FEO said the EC could also hold meetings virtually.

“Even with a clear definition of meeting in the Electoral Act 2014 and clarification from COC on payment of allowance, Mr Saneem continued to deviate from this and constantly gave instructions for payment of $500 allowance to the chairperson and members of EC.”

The FEO referred the matter to FICAC for further investigations.

(Additional reporting by RAKESH KUMAR)