Former Prisons A.C.E.O. breaks his silence
Former Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Prisons and Correction Services, Maiava Vi’iga Fuimaono, says he has forgiven Police and Prisons Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil.
“I forgive him,” Maiava said during an interview with the Samoa Observer, where he broke his silence over his departure.
The ill feeling between the two men began in late March, soon after the Police Commissioner had taken over the prison service after the breakout of 29 men from the Tanumalala Prison.
“What happened to me was devastating,” said Maiava. “I was at my lowest point, but I have chosen to move on from here and leave the past where it is.”
Last week, the Minister of Police and Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed that Maiava had submitted his resignation after making ill-considered remarks of a lighthearted nature in the wake of a 23 March Tanumalala Prison breakout.
A total of 29 prisoners escaped the facility which led to the Commissioner's move to terminate the services of the Assistant C.E.O, following the resignation of the Commissioner of Corrections, Taitosaua Edward Winterstein.
Maiava, who is from Lotopa, confirmed his resignation has been submitted to Cabinet.
“And it does not matter whether the Cabinet will accept it, I am not going back.”
He then shared with the Samoa Observer the events of the day that led to his dismissal.
“It was an unexpected situation,” said Maiava who’s worked at the Prison for over a year.
The situation involved him meeting the newly appointed Commissioner of Prisons and Police, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil, and his team.
“And it would have been easy if I had violated any aspect of my contract or being insubordinate, I would have certainly taken the lead and bowed out [of my own accord].
“We met for the first time and [the Commissioner] came in with his team of [high ranking staff] and introduced everyone.
“I felt that it’s only fair that I introduce my team and there was tension in the room (with the mass prison break [only] a few days before). I wanted to break the ice.
"And humorously, I said (in Samoan) I should introduce my staff in any case we get into a fight at least you know who you’re up against, (magaia fo’i le introduce aku ole makou team, a ke’i ua kakou ka’ua’i misa se kaimi a lea ua kakou masagi).”
Maiava said his “joke” turned things sour unexpectedly.
After the tour of the prison facilities, he and three other high ranking Police staffers, were called by the Commissioner and that’s when he was informed that he was fired.
“The Commissioner claims that my comments created friction between the Police and the Prison staff. And I apologised and made it clear that was not my intention, but it was too late," Maiava said.
“I left and thought hard about what just happened and I was at my lowest. I was humiliated in front of a lot of people. My pride kicked in and this made it worse.”
Things changed upon meeting with the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.
“I met with the Prime Minister and he said this issue is an added burden to the Government that’s already facing a bigger predicament: the coronavirus,” he said.
“That really got to me. The Government has far more imperative issues they are dealing with to protect our people from the coronavirus. They don’t need to deal with me and my issues.
“I went back home and reflected on a lot of things and I started working on my farm. When all else fails, go back to your roots, it is not the end of the world.”
Maiava said he did not deserve the Commissioner’s backlash, but he’s moving on not because he couldn’t fight back, but because it was the best option for everyone at this particular time.
“I swallowed my pride and submitted my resignation,” he said.
“There were no legal grounds to fire me, but I will not pursue litigation against the Government.
“I don’t want to get any money this way; if I get money from my farm, at least it's clean money and my conscience is clear and I am free,” said Maiava who’s been a public servant for 20 years.
Maiava hopes that his situation will somewhat help other people facing the same predicament.
“I don’t want to let my pride dictate how I live my life. If I fight this in court, I will have to spend a lot of time and money and for what--- to save my pride? It is not worth it,” he said during the interview.
In response to questions for comments the Commissioner of Police said: “For Prisons, as with police work, professionalism, integrity, and discipline are expected from all members, regardless of rank.”
ces, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, are intended to settle a dispute.