Nadi lawyer Faizal Koya, the son of Fiji’s second Leader of the Opposition Siddiq Koya, was appointed a magistrate today. He took his oath under Fiji’s new legal order before self appointed President Ratu Josefa Iloilo at Government House.
Coupfourpointfive has been told that in early March, Koya told his close friends that he was going to become a magistrate. The argument then was that the best and trusted lawyers should take up appointments on the bench to uphold the rule of law and do redress to those subjected to human rights violations.
Faizal Koya and his elder brother Faiyaz have been operating the law firm of Koyas in Nadi. Mr Siddiq Koya was one of the finest leaders of Fiji and together with A D Patel led the struggle for Fiji’s Independence. He helped A D Patel establish the National Federation Party in 1963.
After Patel died in October 1969, he succeeded him as NFP leader and was the first Leader of the Opposition after Independence in 1970. He was also one of the architects of the 1970 Constitution. In April 1977 he led the NFP to victory over Ratu Mara’s ruling Alliance Party with a slim majority of two seats in the 52 member House of Representatives but was prevented from becoming the first Indian Prime Minister by the then Governor-General Ratu Sir George Cakobau, who appointed Ratu Mara as minority PM.
Siddiq Koya also served in Parliament under the leadership of Jai Ram Reddy from 1982 to December 1983 when Mr Reddy walked out of Parliament and never returned following his bitter verbal war with the then Speaker Tomasi Vakatora.
In 1992 he advised the NFP to fight the elections under the 1990 Constitution so as to enter Parliament and seek changes to the unjust document, and was critical of the Labour Party’s boycott strategy. He was one of the voters who signed the nomination for the candidacy of Reddy and put to end all speculation of the two having major differences.
Mr Koya died in April 1993 aged 69 and at the time his sons Faiyaz and Faizal were studying law in London.
Siddiq Koya was known as a principled man, who did not support the two Rabuka coups of 1987.
Faizal Koya is the Speaker of the Fiji Muslim League, a position his father previously held. In April last year, as a guest of Fiji Television’s Close-Up programme, Faizal Koya was critical of the regime and said he did not recognise the People’s Charter. He said his Charter was the Constitution. But that has now obviously changed with him taking up a position with the interim government. Sources have told Coupfourpointfive that the Koya brothers are close friends of interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
His acceptance of appointment is in contrast to the non-appointment of Shafiullah Khan as magistrate. Mr Khan was transferred to Suva from Lautoka late last year. He is a son of the late Mohamed Taiyab Khan (M T Khan), who was a close friend of A D Patel and Siddiq Koya. M T Khan served as a NFP Member of the Legislative Council with Patel and Koya in the 1960’s and was also a Minister in Ratu Mara’s Alliance Government in 1970’s.
The full list of sitting magistrates who were reappointed are:
Ajmal Gulab Khan (back as Chief Magistrate)
Salesi Temo (a former Chief Magistrate)
Muhammad Nazeem Sahu-Khan (brother of Fiji Football Association President Sashu Din Sahu Khan and the late Muhammad Kamalu Din Sahu Kan – Electoral Commission Chairman who died in February this year)
Two other magistrates resigned more than a year ago. Makareta Waqavonovono resigned to take up a magistrate’s post in the Solomon Islands. Salote Kaimacuata (younger sister of Salesi Temo) resigned to join the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Fiji Law Society which promised to suspend any lawyer taking up judicial appointments is yet to say what step it will take.