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By Josephine Prasad

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 4, 2000 – Pasifik Nius/Daily Post/Niuswire)---The final straw occurred last night when Fiji’s Native Land Trust Board officials put eviction notices on three government buildings in Nausori, near the capital of Suva, the Daily Post reports.

The Magistrates’ Court, government buildings and a house used as government offices got the eviction notices.

NLTB officials at the scene said the lease expired at midnight on March 27 on the native land known as Waikocuka.

The notices said the negotiations for renewal have provided no solution except to vacate by midnight on April 9.

NLTB board secretary and manager of Legal Services Niko Nawaikula, who had signed the notices, said the government had been given ample time to make suitable arrangements.

He said that if there is any issue outstanding it is to be resolved with him before April 9.

"Finally I must remind you of your liability under section 27 the NLTA which says that ‘any person which is found to be in unlawful occupation of any native land shall be liable to be in immediate eviction and to a fine of F$1,000 (US$ 495.54), imprisonment of six months or both’."

Last week the government managed to get an extra 30 working days in which to resolve the Nausori land issue after a meeting. Landowners’ spokesperson Solomoni Cakau said the extension was only a verbal agreement.

"There is nothing on paper; black and white, nothing. As of now they are illegally on our land," he said.

He said there had been no consent from the landowners when the initial construction took place.

"Consent was granted the Native Land Trust Board. The landowners sued the NLTB in 1980 but nothing happened," he said.

"It started with the Sila Central (High School) talks. We all sat down, talked and came to an agreement," he said.

"Dulakiverata was there from the Lands Department and Sefanaia Koroi from the Ministry of Education. Yet after they left, a letter came, which said, they could not agree to some of the things we already verbally agreed on."

Cakau said they wanted people who could give them a definite answer in the discussions.

They do not want different versions from people who attend meetings and from people who make the decisions.

He said that the government will have to come up with F$100,000 (US$ 49,554) if talks are to go any further.

"The other option open to government is to rent from us, landowners. We will lease the land through our commercial arm, Nakuita Enterprises, and government rents from us."

He explained that another option, a planned takeover, is not a move to close government offices.

"It is a move to reassert our rights as landowners which right now technically and legally is with the Director of Lands," he said.

Cakau said the figure of F$ 4.5 million (US$ 2.23 million) had been arrived at by their late valuer, Watisoni Waqa, of the Rushton Group, who had based the valuation on three factors:

Title -- 2637 LAND: Fiji government receives eviction notice Date -- 4 April 2000 Byline -- Josephine Prasad Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Daily Post (Fiji), 4/4/00 Copyright – DP Status -- Unabridged

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