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Amanave sa’o seeks court order to evict AOG church

An Assembly of God Church in Amanave is fighting their eviction by Tua’au Fa’avi, the Sa’o of the Tua’au communal family, the owner of the land where the church is located. Reverend Viliamu Pa’aga, the AOG church faifeau (preacher) is also named a defendant in this matter.

In a complaint filed February 22, 2012 the plaintiff, Tua’au Fa’avi, though his lawyer Charles Ala’ilima states that the plaintiff is the Tua’au title holder and has traditional pule (power) over the Tua’au Communal land called Matatufu.

According to the complaint, on March 8, 1972 Tua’au Sito’a agreed as part of a stipulated settlement before the High Court to grant a license to the Assembly of God Church on an area 100 feet by 100 feet. On October 12, 1972 the license was formalized by a written agreement and the church constructed their building on the designated area.

The complaint states in addition the Amanave AOG subsequently constructed a residential structure adjacent to the church structure outside the designated area.

On September 29, 2009 the tsunami destroyed the church structure and severely damaged the adjacent residential structure.

The complaint says after Tua’au consulted with his communal family, they determined that it was the family’s decision to revoke the license to the church and recover the land rather than allow the church to be rebuilt, and this also included any repairs to the residence.

On May 24, last year the Tua’au sent a notice to the defendants revoking the license and instructed the church and Reverend Pa’aga to vacate the premises in thirty days, however  they did not vacate the premises (church and residential) in the time provided.

Another notice was sent by the plaintiff on July 27, 2011 though his lawyer, and the defendant still did not vacate.

The plaintiff took the matter to the Office of Samoan Affairs for statutory mediation, however it was unsuccessful and a certificate of irreconcilable differences was issued.

On the complaint, the plaintiff noted the first clause of action as trespassing.

Plaintiff says that the defendant’s refusal to vacate the premises after the time period constitutes a continuing trespass. Plaintiff seeks a court order directing the eviction of the defendant from the premises and an order enjoining future trespassing on the Tua’au communal land.

The second cause of action was for preliminary and permanent injunction. The plaintiff has refused to sign permits allowing the defendants to reconstruct their church or to repair the residential structure.  

According to the complaint the defendants continue to occupy and use the damaged residential structure as the pastor’s residence and to conduct their services there.

The plaintiff notes the continuing usage of the damaged structure on Tua’au communal land presents a danger to people and the property.

The plaintiff is also concerned about the danger to people in the damaged structure and the disruptive effect the continued use by the Reverend Pa’aga family members, and is asking for a preliminary injunction ordering the premises be immediately vacated until the matter is resolved.

The plaintiff is asking the court for the following:

1.            A declaration by the court that the Tua’au license to the Amanave Assembly of God has been revoked;

2.            A declaration that the continued occupancy and use of the existing premises by the defendants constitutes a trespass;

3.            Issue orders directing the eviction of defendants and permanently enjoining them from future trespass; and,

4.            Award plaintiff any damage to its property caused by the illegal occupancy as may be shown at trial.

The matter is now pending with the lands and titles court.