Last October, the Office of the Solicitor-General had advised the Minister for Education Aseri Radrodro that neither Dr Kesaia Seniloli nor Semesa Karavaki could have served as chairperson and deputy chair, deeming it unlawful.
This is in accordance with the provisions of Section 28 and 29 of the Fiji National University Act 2009.
In a letter from the Solicitor-General, Ropate Green providing legal opinion to the Minister of Education, said the non-compliance renders the appointments of Dr Seniloli and Karavaki as invalid, void and of no effect.
The Office of the Solicitor-General said the duo could however serve as members of the FNU Council, under Section 14 of the Act.
Green said this was valid and that the Ministry of Education must adhere to the appointment provisions for chairperson and deputy chairperson as mandated.
In the same letter, Green also addressed the terminations of four FNU Council Members.
He said that their termination were deemed unlawful, void and that of no effect due to its non-compliance, under Section 23 of the Act.
The Solicitor–General then advised that the Ministry of Education rescind the termination letters of Dr Seniloli, Dr Robin Nair, Dr Priscilla Puamau and Peter Zinck, in a letter to Radrodro in May 2023.
Green said that the appointment of Dr Seniloli as a Council member was pursuant to section 14(1) of the Act which is a valid appointment since this section empowers the Minister to appoint 14 members to the Council, who in the opinion of the Minister have adequate qualifications, skills, expertise and knowledge to contribute to the disciplines offered by the University and the general administration and financial management of a tertiary institution.
“Section 28(1) and (2) of the Act outlines the appointment procedures in relation to the Chancellor of the University – states that there shall be a Chancellor of the University appointed by the Minister, in consultation with the Council, who shall be the chairperson of the FNU Council, and shall hold office for terms of up to three-years.”
“The chancellor shall be eligible for reappointment, but shall not hold office for more than three consecutive terms,” Green said.