Acting governor dismisses allegations of nepotism
Acting Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga has dismissed allegations the newly appointed Special Assistant to the Commissioner, Fuega Moliga, the governor’s brother will be the next Deputy Commissioner. “As a matter of fact, its unclear if there will be another Deputy Commissioner.” said Lemanu.
In an interview with Samoa News, Lemanu said the reason that he and Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga decided to deploy Save Liuato Tuitele, Director of the Office of Fraud Prevention and Investigation (OFPI) to DPS for 90 days, was for him to conduct assessments for DPS, including the Fire Bureau, Marine Patrol and the TCF in order to determine which areas need improvement, and also to determine if DPS does need a Deputy Commissioner position.
“In other States they don’t have Deputy Commissioners, the second in command is the Chief of Police, but there is no Deputy, which is why we are considering this too, but we will have to wait until the assessment is complete,” said Lemanu.
Samoa News asked if it was true, that the Commissioner was instructed not to name a Deputy Commissioner until the governor returned.
“I told the Commissioner to hold off on appointing a Deputy, because I want to make sure that we have the right person in place; we need to have the experience but also we are awaiting the assessment to finalize the Administration’s decision on the Deputy Commissioner position.”
The Acting Governor also dismissed comments that the Administration is micromanaging decisions by the DPS Commissioner when he was told to hold off on appointing a Deputy Commissioner.
“Again, this will have to wait until the assessment is complete,” said Lemanu.
The Acting Governor further said Governor Lolo did not play a role in the hiring of Fuega as Special Assistant to the Commissioner.
“I put Fuega there… not Governor Lolo, he did not support the move to have his brother at DPS. I made the decision based on the experience and qualifications that Fuega has, I didn’t see him as the Governor’s brother, but someone who’s knowledgeable with the Department of Public Safety.
“I hope the general population and the police officers do not see this as favoritism, because it is not.”
“To be honest, the governor from the beginning did not want his brother there.”
“But I made the decision and I’m sure he (the governor) is upset now that Fuega is working at DPS, but we have to look at the betterment of the Department…” Lemanu stated.
The Acting Governor further said that it’s not fair that people look at Fuega as a relative, yet they failed to look at his expertise. “This is one of the things that comes with being a leader… the brothers, sisters and immediate family members suffer because of the perception of the public that favoritism is played, and it’s not fair… because these people do have the experience. Yet when they do obtain employment, the decision is being questioned.”
Lemanu told Samoa News, in addition to being the Special Assistant, Fuega will also be working with Marine Patrol Division because Fuega worked under this Division for a very long time. “In June there will be a new boats for Manu’a and we want to set up the Marine patrol for those in Manu’a and that’s why Fuega was hired to rejoin the DPS force. There will be a boat that will travel between Ta’u and Ofu, and we cannot have a boat operating in Manu’a without a Marine Patrol, that’s unacceptable.”
He said upon reviewing Fuega’s resume, it indicated that he has a vast knowledge from his time with Marine Patrol, and that’s why his services are needed in this division. “Fuega was at the Marine Patrol when this division of DPS was first established. He also served at the Fire Department and was a Warden at one time.”
Lemanu further stated there should be a Division of the Marine Patrol in Aunu’u, Manu’a and Swains island, as residents are using boats to travel back and forth, and in case there is an incident on the water, officers with the Marine Patrol should be present.
Regarding Save, the acting governor said having Save at DPS is not just for one issue but for many reasons.
“We’re looking at the fact that, the Administration has given DPS more than enough reasons to fulfill their obligations in terms of funding.
“Funding becomes a very big issue because it drives the many new projects that we are looking at achieving and for improvements, and the Commissioner has been asked to bring in new personnel for the department. We’re also looking at having another Police Academy next month,” he noted.
Lemanu said they are also looking at adding more firefighters and more corrections officers, all for the betterment of the service provided to serve and protect, as it is DPS’s motto — “to protect and serve.”
Samoa News should point out when Fuega was hired last week Tuesday, there were a lot of unhappy police officers who called this a slap in their faces— having someone who’s retired return to work on a $45,0000 contract, yet there are other high ranking officers who are making less.