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Satele has no authority to ban Lopa, says Attny Sunia

“You do not have the authority to my ban my client, the registered holder of the Availopa title,” said Attorney Fiti Sunia, to Secretary of Samoa Affairs, Paramount Chief Satele Galu Teutusi Satele, in connection with the banning of Availopa “Lopa” Seti Lopa from Vailoa last month.


According to a letter sent this past Friday, Sunia told Satele that Lopa is the legal holder of the Availopa title and Satele cannot prohibit him from exercising his authority as Availopa or representing his family in the village, the district or anywhere else.


Chiefs and Orators of the Vailoatai Village passed around a petition to formally ban Lopa from the village last month, which was received by Samoa Affairs, and in return, Deputy Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Tuiagamoa Tavai sent a letter to Lopa informing him of the decision by the village to ban him.


Sunia told Satele that he has until June 17, 2013 to issue a written notice lifting the “so-called ban” against Lopa and if it is not lifted, a lawsuit will be filed against Satele to “void this unlawful ban, to demand an accounting of village funds you received, to recover for the strain and embarrassment my client suffered as a result of your unauthorized actions, to recover for your defamation of the title Availopa, to recover for your abuse of your power as Secretary of Samoan Affairs,” plus he added a “demand will be made of Governor Lolo Moliga to remove you as Secretary of Samoan Affairs and a demand will be made of the law enforcement agencies (Attorney General and Public Safety) to investigate you for any crimes you have committed in your spending village funds,” said Sunia.  


Attorney Sunia urged Tuiagamoa to rescind his letter and issue an apology to Lopa. He warned that if Tuiagamoa does not follow the request, the next correspondence he will receive will be a court summons.


Sunia’s parting shot in his letter to the Samoan Affairs head stated, “Incidentally, the Samoan Chief system is a democracy and your title Satele does not transform the system into a dictatorship.”


As reported earlier, Lopa told Samoa News that he was banned from the village during the meeting after he demanded that Satele furnish financial reports on the $20,000 issued to him from the Western District’s share of tobacco settlement loan funds and how it was spent during their trip to Samoa’s 5oth Independence Celebration.


“My village of Vailoatai has been degraded by actions of Satele issuing checks from the $1 million in his wife’s name and his son’s name, yet that money should have gone to the capital improvement of the Western District, and this was published in the Samoa News,” he said.


According to the ledger report that Samoa News published in April, the first checks were issued in the amount of $3,040 (Check#1263/1264) to Galu Satele and Joyita Satele, with another check issued to Galu Satele in the amount of $5,000 (Check#1904) at a later date.


Satele has disputed all three entries and told Samoa News that the information indicated in the ledger is inaccurate or false, and has said no more