The Supreme Court has denied a strike out motion by the Office of the Attorney General against a claim from a Sogi family targeting the government.
The decision in the lawsuit filed by Nanai Tokuma and his family was delivered by Supreme Court Justice Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai yesterday.
The courtroom was packed, well attended by the Tokuma family who is represented by lawyer, Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo.
The Tokuma family is fighting for what they claim is their land.
They are seeking an interim order from the Supreme Court to stop the government from evicting them. The claim is against the Samoa Land Corporation, Ministry of Public Enterprises and the Land Board.
Yesterday, Justice Vaepule indicated the proceedings identified three issues for the Court to rule on.
The first two motions sought the Court to remove the Ministry of Public Enterprises and Land Board from being parties to the case.
The Attorney General’s third motion sought for declaratory orders with affidavit and statement of claims to be struck out.
According to Justice Vaepule, the issue of ownership of the land should be determined at a hearing.
“Is there evidence, documentary or otherwise to prove or support an alleged gift or an agreement the applicants claim as the basis of their ownership of the land at Sogi?
“Now despite Counsel for the Applicants’ admission during the strike out motion, that there is no documentary evidence to support the applicants’ claim, that the land was a gift to their ancestor, this in my opinion is a matter of evidence and should be dealt with and determined on the substantive hearing.”
He granted the motion to remove the Ministry of Public Enterprises and the Land Board from the proceedings but declined the motion to strike out the statement of claims completely.
The Tokuma family claims that the land they live on now in Sogi was gifted to their predecessor Turore Tokuma by the then Commissioner of Crown Estates of Samoa who was also the Public Trustee and a member of the Legislative Council of Samoa, the late Percival Ernest Patrick in the 1920s.
The late Turore Tokuma was a driver and was treated as a member of the household of Mr. Patrick.
The family also claims the gifted land they now occupy was given to their predecessor and his wife and children in recognition of his “service, loyalty and compensation for the execution that almost killed Mr Tokuma for the crime he did not commit”.
The Tokuma family is arguing that their continuous occupation of the same land was endorsed by the first Prime Minister of Samoa, Mataafa Fiame Mulinu’u.
“The deed through his words reaffirmed lawful ownership and occupation of the land by the Tokuma family when Mataafa said “your mother and children can live on the land where you are now as the government cannot afford to pay your father’.”