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Rules paramount Matā‘afa title appropriately awarded

By Sarai Ripine APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Dec. 18, 2011) – In Samoa, the Court has ruled in favour of Tupuola Lui Iosefo in a dispute over the paramount chiefly title Matā’afa, of Amaile, Aleipata.

The ruling by the Vice President of the Land and Titles Court, Misa Iuli Anae was greeted by loud applauds from supporters of the titleholder inside the Courtroom.

Many people had to wait outside, as there was not enough space inside.

When Matā’afa Lui emerged from the Courtroom, they rejoiced with him through tears and hugs.

The elated 82-year-old Tama a Aiga titleholder told the Weekend Observer it is time to move forward.

"It’s time to forget all the things that have happened in the past," he said. "It’s time to look ahead, plan for the future and do what’s best for my family.

“Obviously one of the first things we need to do is to reunite our family.” Matā’afa Lui said he always knew the truth.

"And now that the Court has spoken, there is nothing more we can say. No one is above the Court and the law.

The Court is a place of truth and the truth has been revealed today. "My purpose and my intention is to give all the glory and honour to God Almighty for his guidance. We had committed this case to him in prayer and he has delivered us an outcome that we are very delighted about.

“I also want to thank my family, our pastors, village, the constituency and everyone who has supported us.” In his ruling yesterday, Vice President Misa validated the bestowal of the Matā’afa. His decision was based on three previous rulings about the Mata’afa title on 3 March 1939, 1 April 1949 and 25 November 1999.

The rulings declared that the authority over the Matā’afa title rests with the Aiga Salevalasi and heirs of Silupevalelei and Fa’asuamaleaui. According to the Judge, all three rulings agree that it is the Aiga Salevalasiwho appoint the holder of the title. Six parties filed the motion to void the title.

But eight parties supported the bestowal and among them was the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fiame Naomi Matā’afa.

The title announcement was officially published in the Savali newspaper on 28 June 2011.

At the beginning of the proceedings, two of the plaintiffs made a request to remove Misa as the presiding judge because he had personal interests in the case. However, this was rejected by the Court because matters pertaining to the title have been heard in the Court before.

Misa said precedents in relation to this case have already been set and the only issue the Court was asked to rule on is whether Tupuola Lui Iosefo is the right person to carry the title.

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