Four matai from Fogapoa sued over banishment

Four matai from Fogapoa and Tuasivi have been sued over their decision to banish a Samoa First Political Party candidate who contested and lost the recent Fa’asaleleaga No. 2 by-election. 

Lema’i Faioso Sione was banished by the village Council in April for disobeying a village decision to support Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) winning candidate, Namulauulu Sami Leota. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, lawyer and Samoa First Leader, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, confirmed a lawsuit against the four matai, whom she did not name. While the Village Council passed down the decision to banish Lema’i, Unasa said there is evidence the four matai being sued made the decision. 

“The respondents have been served and will appear on first mention on 3 June,” she said. “We previously looked at the fono (Village Council) but because we got clear and unequivocal evidence those four powerful matai made the decision to banish Lema’i and made the decision that he should not have stood in the election for Samoa First.” 

Unasa said Samoa First is the second plaintiff in the civil matter. 

Asked about the grounds of the lawsuit, Unasa said it is violation of the candidate’s Constitutional rights. 

“He has the freedom to stand up for his rights,” she said. “It must be challenged and these things go into the heart of our people and human rights.”

Unasa added although the candidate only received 14 votes in the by-election, “no one should dictate people on who they should vote for and which party to run in”. 

Attempts to get a comment from village mayor of Tuasivi and Fogapoa, Namulauulu Sefo Taliva’a, were unsuccessful. 

But during a recent interview, Namulauulu Sefo maintained that Lema’i knew about the village Council decision to support Namulau’ulu Sami Leota but still went ahead and run in the by-election. 

“He is free to exercise his right to run in the election,” said the village mayor. 

“Despite the fact that he was aware of the village council’s decision he went ahead and ran in the election but did not inform the village of his intention to make it official. That said, this village does not oppress him from running but that was the issue.” 

Namulau’ulu Sefo had previously confirmed that the village council received a letter from Unasa to reconsider their decision to banish Lema’i. The Village Council rejected the request. 

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