Suspension of top officials with Ministry of Justice is a “bad reflection” but it does not warrant him to step down

The suspension of top officials within the Ministry of Justice, Courts and Administration (MJCA) does not warrant the Minister to step down.

So says the Minister of M.J.C.A., Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u when approached for a comment about the predicaments arising out of the Ministry under his portfolio. 

The Ministry had recently suspended the C.E.O. Papali’i John Taimalelagi, A.C.E.O. Veataulia Fa’atasi Puleiata and the terminate the services of another A.C.E.O, Galuo Serah Skelton as a result of an investigation by the Public Service Commission. 

Galuo is accused of unlawfully obtaining Government funds of up to $310,000 allegedly for personal use and theft as a servant while Ve’ataulia faces charges of allegedly misusing Ministry vehicles and staff for his wife’s catering business, and driving a government vehicle without a valid driver’s license. 

Papali’i faces six P.S.C. charges and it is in relation to the alleged removal of Court files from the Court building, alleged inappropriate behaviour towards female employees and alleged misconduct in relation to other Ministry employees among other matters.

This week, the Minister said there is no law that prohibits or allows the removal of the court files, and therefore in his view the files taken to his office is not illegal. 

“It is part of my job to review the files.” 

Asked about the suspension of top officials in his Ministry, Fa’aolesa was concerned. 

Asked if he should step down as a result of the predicaments arising within his Ministry, Fa’aolesa was dismayed.  

“Why would I step down? Do you think that is a reasonable question for you to ask the Minister…for the Minister to step down for something that happened before he became a Minister,” said Fa’aolesa.

It was put to the Minister the issue is a reflection of him and having a C.E.O. and A.C.E.O. on suspension with one A.C.E.O. terminated does not paint a good picture of the Ministry under his portfolio. 

The Minister then explained the issue regarding the misappropriation of funds (from police statements) was well underway before he became Minister of Justice. 

In the meantime, Fa’aolesa said the P.S.C. is currently undergoing a recruitment and selection process to fill the position that was once held by the A.C.E.O. of Corporate Services. 

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