P.M. says Court files claim “nothing new”

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has reminded that Land and Titles Court files should not be moved from the Court’s premises.

He also said the allegations involving senior Court officials – including the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Faaolesa Katopau Ainu’u, “should not happen.”

He was responding to the Samoa Observer’s questions posed during his weekly programme with the media yesterday. 

Last week, an employee of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Tulima Pio, told the Samoa Observer that files in relation to the Ainu’u title of Sapapali’i, were allegedly delivered to the Minister’s Office.

The allegation was denied by Minister, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainuu. 

Asked for a comment yesterday, Prime Minister said the allegations are "nothing new." 

 “With the management of these files, that should not happen and that is why the Government has invested in digitising files,” he said. 

“Everything nowadays is computerised.

“I don’t know what those files are but everything is computerised and you cannot carry out a computer, which is quite heavy. 

“It takes three people to carry a computer and I am shocked as to who will carry out a computer.

“That is why I find it hard to believe such things.”

As reported earlier, Mr. Pio came to the Samoa Observer and provided a document that lists the names of 10 Land and Titles Court files that were allegedly removed from the Court and taken to the Minister’s Office in October 2016.

 Asked for a comment, Minister Fa’aolesa said: “That is not true. I cannot respond to the questions if you will not tell me who said these things to you.”

But Mr. Pio said he was the one who delivered the files in 2016 upon instructions from his superior.

At the time, he was the driver for the Chief Executive Officer of M.J.C.A., Papali’i John Taimalelagi.

“I have already reported this to the Chief Justice earlier this month.”

Attempts to get a comment from Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, have been unsuccessful.

Mr. Pio came to the Samoa Observer Office last month with the claims. Asked why he has waited for so long, Mr. Pio said: “I can no longer carry this burden. 

Mr. Pio said he has worked at the M.J.C.A. for six years and he’s never seen anything like this being done before. 

“The Head of State; the Prime Minister and all Cabinet Ministers, come down to the Court to view the Court files; because we all know the Court files are not allowed to leave the Court,” he said. “It is prohibited.”

He also raised concerns about some of the activities at the Ministry of Justice.

 “I have picked up family members (of senior officials) and driven them around for grocery shopping, run errands yet this was not my job in the first place. 

“I am not being paid by the Government to run errands for the A.C.E.O’s and their family members.”

When the Minister was queried, he referred all questions to C.E.O. Papali’i, who strongly denied the allegations.

“This type of allegation questions the integrity of the Ministry and that is why I want to make it clear that these are not true,” Papali’i said. 

“There was never a time that Court documents have left the Court house.” 

Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?