By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA-12 MOVEMBER 2020: Saleapaga village mayor, Taulu Konelio confirmed in Court today that the Tu’ulā family is still banned from the village despite the Court decision to reinstate them.
Taulu who is the uncle of electoral candidate, Tu’ulā Kiliri Tuitui on his mother’s side said the Tu’ulā family is banned from Si’upapa, a sub-village of Saleapaga of the Lepā constituency where Tu’ulā Kiliri is an election candidate against the Prime Minister.
After three years of banishment, the Lands and Titles Court ruled on 24 July 2020 in favour of the Tu’ulā family and ordered that the family to return to Saleapaga.
However, that order has yet to be carried out as the village still considers the Tu’ulā family banished according to Taulu.
That banishment is now a major argument in the electoral challenge by candidate Faletagoa’i Tausaga against Tu’ula Kiliri’s eligibility as a candidate for next year’s general election.
Both candidates are contesting the Lepā parliamentary seat currently held by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. The constituency consists of Aufaga, Saleapaga and Lepa villages.
No monotaga if banished
Counsel for Faletagoai, Aumua Ming Leung Wai questioned the village procedure on rendering service by someone who is banished from the village.
Taulu confirmed that if banished, then the village cannot accept a monotaga from the banished person.
He also confirmed that Tu’ulā Kiliri continued to render monotaga but was rejected by the village council.
However, when the village commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Tsunami, the Council instructed all matais to provide a monotaga for the cause and Tu’ula contributed but was rejected.
After deliberations, the Village Council finally accepted it but under his title Toi and not Tu’ulā. But Taulu said there is no Toi title in Saleapaga.
Aumua put it to the witness that since Tu’ulā was still banished, then he has not provided a monotaga for the past three years.
“There were still things provided by Tu’ulā,” he said.
Taulu also signed the declaration confirming that Tu’ulā provided monotaga for the past three years hence his eligibility as a candidate.
But when questioned by Justice Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma on it, the village mayor admitted that he did not read the declaration but signed.
Village Council endorsed Tu’ulā and Tupua as candidates.
Taulu claimed that after the meeting on the 19 October 2020, the village council finally agreed to endorse both Tu’ulā and Tupua Ioane as candidates.
However his claim was contradicted by the challenger’s witnesses who said the Council only agreed to endorse Tupua and not Tu’ulā.
Tu’ula was also present at this meeting.
The two day hearing ended today and both counsels are to present written submission to the registrar by 3.00pm Monday. The decision will be delivered 27 November 2020.