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SSIC to question Papali’i Lauli’i on Friday regarding Nu’u Fou land

Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Businessman Papali’i Lauli’i Alofa has been subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Select Investigative Committee this Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

This is over the alleged land grab at Nu’u Fou that came to light last year.  A senator confirmed to Samoa News that the SSIC has issued the subpoena to Lauli’i.

Papali’i is known locally more as “Lauli’i” — and is the owner of Paramount Builders, Inc.

The survey of the Nu’u Fou land was at the center of criticism by the public last year, which led to the hearings before the SSIC starting in July 2022.

Samoa News obtained a copy of the survey and description of the lands, which cites close to 400 acres of land surveyed by the government surveyor in a subdivision of land called Nu’u Fou.

The map in question has the seal of the American Samoa Government Manager’s certificate. Lauli’i’s name is cited in the survey — within a subdivision of the Nu’u Fou.

The survey lists the following acreage: For the of village Aasu, there are 83.75 acres claimed by Fuiava and others; 132.19 acres claimed by Mageo Patolo in Aasu; 107.78 acres claimed by Laulii Alofa in the village of Malaeimi and 68.32 acres claimed by Mauga in Fagasa village.

The survey was registered on April 20, 2022.

A notice of registration published in Samoa News outlined the names of Mauga Tasi Asuega, Laulii Alofa, Michael T. Fuiavai; Patolo Mageo and others as “individually owned land” encompassing close to 400 acres.

However that notice was withdrawn by the Office of the Territorial Registrar in late July, citing the registration’s “failure to comply with the territory’s land registration statute, A.S.C.A. Sections 37.0101 et seq.”

 Last year during one of the hearings into the matter, a report by the manager of the Survey Division, Leota Mapesone Laulu was revealed on the survey of Land claimed as “Virgin Bush” situated North of Malaeimi Valley, West of Fagasa village, and East of Aasu Village.

Laulu in his report says that “despite all dangerous [sic] and difficulties they faced and experienced during with [sic] this project,” he’s thankful to the Lord for guiding and protecting his team “from sick [sic], serious injured [sic], drifted [sic] out in the sea and most of all death, which reminded me that everything we want, everything we do, everything we desired.

 “He is beyond all our comprehensions and expectations.”

The report also revealed that there were features like a concrete wall, coconut trees and low vegetation indicating “there were people [who] occupied these lands not very long ago”.

In December the Senate Select Investigative Committee held a hearing where Laulu testified, and the media was banned from entering the Fono chambers.

“This hearing is a closed door hearing and the media are not allowed,” SSIC Chairman, Togiola T. A. Tulafono told Samoa News reporters at that time.

However last month, Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean told Samoa News he was puzzled as to why the media was banned from the SSIC hearing by Chairman Senator Togiola T. A. Tulafono.

Tuaolo told Samoa News there are SSIC bylaws but, “I have no knowledge about the authority of the SSIC Chairman to ban the media.

“These are public hearings as the media are the eyes and ears of the public,” he said.

The Senate President then called in the Senate’s Legal Counsel, Mitzie Jessop Taase and asked whether there is any law governing the SSIC giving authority to the chairman to ban the media.

Mrs Ta’ase said the SSIC can hold closed door hearings but only for “sensitive matters.”

Tuaolo added that “the closed door hearings happen when it comes to discussions by the SSIC” but not hearings as it’s a matter of public interest.

Samoa News will be on hand at the Fono on Friday in the hope of being “the eyes and ears of the public.”