The Minister of Revenue and Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has laughed at the call by Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, for him to resign.
Olo made the call at the beginning of the week saying that if Tialavea cannot fix the ongoing problems at Tafa’igata Prison, he should step down and let someone else get the job done.
Asked for a comment, the Minister of Prisons laughed, saying Olo is entitled to his opinion.
“As for his call for me to step down, all I can say is God bless you (Olo),” Tialavea responded. “I also wish you (Olo) good luck with whatever it is that you are doing.”
The Minister, however, took issue with the reporter noting that he was not given ample time to respond.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you call me, you still have to wait for me to respond in order to run your article,” he said.
The story was published on Monday after the Samoa Observer had contacted Tialavea on Saturday and Sunday.
Tialavea declined to justify Olo’s other comments with a response.
But as the Minister of Prisons, he confirmed that it is business as usual at Tafa’igata Prison after the alleged mass prison break plot, which the Police foiled.
The Minister commended the quick action taken by the management of Prisons and the Ministry of Police.
“My staff acted quickly and passed on the information to the police who responded right away,” he said about the incident. “After all we have been working very closely with the Police.”
Asked as to why notorious criminal, Tagaloasa Filipaina, and his relative Ovalegi Poli are held under the Police Custody and not in jail, he said:
“Look we have not passed the buck to the Police.
“They (prisoners) will be back (at Tafaigata). At the end of the day the prisoners are supposed to be incarcerated at the jail. The Police jail cell is something temporary not permanent.
“I’m assuming the Police may be filing charges against the prisoners and they will be taken back to the Tafaigata prison.”
With regards to the inmate who has been on the run December last year, Tialavea said the search efforts are continuing.
“We are working on the new prison and upon completion that will solve all the problems of inmates running away.”
He added that a secured fence around the Tafa’igata prison has been around since 2016 but the prisoners keep escaping.
Earlier this week, M.P. Olo called on the Minister to step down.
Olo said he is baffled about why no one from the Samoa Prisons and Correction Services has been charged for the unlawful release of notorious criminal, Tagaloasa Filipaina during the Festive season holidays.
“Who is above the law and who isn’t?” he asked. “Why is it that no one from the Samoa Prisons and Correction Services has been held accountable for the unlawful release of inmates? The law has been broken, yet nothing has been done about it.”