Disqualified candidate files for review
As pre-polling begins across six constituencies for this week's by-elections, the Supreme court will consider an application for a motion filed by the recently disqualified candidate from the Falealupo constituency.
Tuitogamanaia Dr. Peniamina Le'avai who was disqualified from running in this week’s by-election by the Supreme Court on Monday afternoon, has in turn filed a motion for the verdict to undergo judicial review. That was delivered by Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese and Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa.
Aeau Leota Tima-Leavai, Tuitogamanaia's lawyer, confirmed with the Samoa Observer this morning that the judicial review motion was filed in court on Tuesday morning.
In a brief interview with this newspaper, A'eau said that the decision had "breached the fundamental rights" of her client, who is also her brother.
"The decision effectively breached the fundamental rights of the second respondent,” she said.
"I understand it will be [considered by the courts] today.
Tuitogamanaia registered for this week's by-election under the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).
However, the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) Falealupo candidate, Fuiono Tenina Crichton successfully challenged Tuitoga's eligibility in court.
The decision by the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the application by Fuiono who asked the Court “to disqualify Tuitogamanaia so that he cannot contest the upcoming by-election”.
“We find that Tuitogamanaia Peniamina Junior Leavai has not rendered religious monotaga to EFKS church at Vaotupua Falealupo-tai for three consecutive years before lodgment date pursuant to section 8(1)(d) and section (5) of EA 2019,” states the decision.
The Office of the Electoral Commissioner had accepted the nomination of Tuitoga, agreeing that he had satisfied the requirement of the religious monotaga, on the basis of the statutory declaration of Reverend Namaia Kofe Tuiletufuga of the Congregational Christian Church Samoa at Vaotupua Falealupo.
However, the Court ruled that Tuitoga does not satisfy a requirement to render service to the church due to the matafale that he serves belongs to his father, who is the former M.P. for Falealupo, Aeau Peniamina Leavaiseeta.
Chief Justice Perese said Tuitoga's voluntary contribution to the C.C.C.S. in Falealupo is not attributed to him but rather his father and he is therefore disqualified from contesting the by-election.
The decision immediately struck out Fuiono as a candidate, leaving Falealupo voters with no alternate choice so that they would not participate in this week's by-election.
With the decision, F.A.S.T. will now control a majority of 27 seats in the 51-seat Parliament including that of the Speaker. The H.R.P.P. has its numbers at 18 seats.
Fuiono is a first-term parliamentarian that lost the April’s election to Aeau Tima Leavai who is the sister of Tuitoga.
Aeau was forced to vacate her seat in parliament when Fuiono lodged a post-election petition alleging bribery and treating against the winner.
As part of post-election legal action she later resigned from the office and agreed not to contest any future by-elections for the seat as part of a settlement deal.
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