How a magistrate bullied us - Solomon Star News

How a magistrate bullied us

20 April 2014
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ON the 24th of March, 2014 we were in a court room at the Honiara Magistrate waiting for our Customary Land Appeal Court (CLAC) cases to be heard.

We were all expecting an independent panel that is biased free and have no conflict of interest to appear and preside over our cases.

We neither expect Jim Seuika to preside as clerk to our CLAC cases since he knew very well the reasons behind our common perception.

However, that was not the case when the panel walked in the court room that day, Seuika was the last person of the queue that walked in to take up the seats as the clerk to the cases that was about to be heard.

His appearance was unexpected and surprising as well for us who were expecting someone from another province other than Renbel to preside as clerk to our cases.

I was immediately consulted by my fellow Rennellese to object his presence but I decide to persuade them to accept Jim Seuika as clerk since he is a magistrate, a matured person highly respected in the Renbel community, and a dedicated Christian of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) faith as well.

With those reputations we have for him, he did not acknowledge the humility and respect we have shown towards him but chose to drag himself in the mud.

I’m glad that he sold his life to tarnish his reputation and became my new rival in court replacing the Mungihenua Investment Company (MIC).

Who knows how much money he already received or promised will receive by MIC and its contractor Samlinsam if the court judgment went in favour of them.

The integrity of this Central Islands Customary Land Appeal Court (CICLAC) panel that determined logging related cases held on 24th of March to 31st of March, 2014 raised more questions on their grounds of ruling in favor of MIC which is highly suspicious of a predetermined result.

It is like the scientific experiment of adding sodium to chloride would form a table salt known as sodium chloride consumable for human.

The formula would look like this Na + Cl = Na Cl, before this experiment was done everybody knows what the result will be.

This is exactly what a predetermined result means for our six cases filed against the MIC has resulted in dismissal of all, and upholding MIC signatories as the rightful people to grant land and forest for logging purposes in West Rennell.

I wonder what makes this qualified lawyer (Jim Seuika) and his panel careless about their decisions.

His involvement demands immediate removal from a highly respected office of the crown.

The integrity of the presiding clerk (Jim Seuika) proves to be toxic from what he spelt out in the black and white court decision we received from him on Monday, 7th of April.

Win or lose is acceptable to us, and is not a matter of concern to our grieving parties to write down this letter, but his unprofessional conduct of our Customary Land Appeal Court (CLAC) cases and the subsequent expression of their court decisions is no different to a betel nut vendor’s reasoning, or even lower than that level.

His refusal to let the rival parties in court to swear before GOD and the HOLY BIBLE as this is the normal procedure of every CLAC cases before hearing proceeds is stirring up doubts about him and his panel to let justice prevail and the truth reveal.

The clerk and his panel were so confident to write down such a biased decision in black and white document that treated us like illiterate and inferior people.

His action amounts to bullying the innocents who rely on his mandated role to resolve grievances related to logging and landownership.

Rule of Law is denied, that seriously damages the values and the respect that the public has for the CICLAC.

He did not even realize that he is merely an employee, not an employer for him to treat that legal body as his private company to determine things according to his interest.

He went beyond boundaries of his profession to determine things without showing ethical manners to uphold the reputation of CICLAC and the Magistrate Court.

We are questioning his inclusion in the panel to preside as clerk to our cases against the MIC since he was excused in the previous Renbel cases for reasons known to him then, and that has wisely decided for a Gizo based magistrate to preside as clerk to Renbel CLAC cases.

His ruling in favor of MIC based on the RBPE decision to grant certificate of determination for the MIC concession area is ridiculous and destructive to the national image of the CICLAC and the Solomon Islands Magistrate Court.

This is justified by the fact that the so called Rennell/Bellona Provincial Executive (RBPE) is the first respondent and MIC is the second respondent to my appeal.

Sadly, the first respondent (RBPE) did not turn up during the court hearing on my appeal but the presiding judges and Seuika continue to rule in favor of MIC based on the first respondent’s (RBPE) decision to grant Certificate of Determination for MIC, which the RBPE failed to substantiate land ownership during the MIC Timber Right Hearing, and to make it worse their non-attendance to CLAC court hearing on the 24th of March, 2014 to confront me and other appellants.

He must be joking for upholding the decision of RBPE who never turn up in court to justify their decision for granting certificate of determination to the MIC concession map.

His (Seuika) heavy reliance on the minutes of the MIC Timber Right Hearing (TRH) to persuade court decision is laughable and unjust for the appealing parties who felt that their verbal expression during the TRH were not accurately recorded in the TRH minute, rather a brief written expression of objectors to suit the RBPE decision for granting the Certificate of Determination to MIC concession map.

His written decision claimed that I’m from Malaita is irrelevant in court, childish, racist, uncivilized and clearly shows his anti-Malaitan attitude, without considering the fact that I’m a conceived child of the biological daughter of Tebaipuke Chief, and my two brothers inheriting the Chiefly status of Tebaipuke tribe.

He should be careful of what he put down in black and white documents otherwise he will reap the consequence of his inconsiderate behavior and bullying style of approach.

He went on to support my opponent’s claimed that my two brothers are from Bellona without even stating the name of the Bellona tribe they came from and most importantly the Bellona tribe genealogy to show where they attached to, instead went on to rule in favor of my opponent who submitted no genealogical evidence to prove his ownership.

Again, a predetermined result is highly suspicious.

We have the court decision from him that speaks well of his unprofessionalism to execute his much needed roles mandated under sovereignty of this nation, but we cannot go that low to his unprofessional level to argue.

I’m also surprised to see what he wrote down in the decision stating that I was denied by my opponent of not relating to me, which gave us a plain evidence of a predetermined court results.

In fact it was me who denied any relationship to my opponent during our confrontation in court, instead Seuika did the opposite when printing Tebaipuke court decision swapping me and my opponent for that particular claim (“denial of any relationship between the appellant and the respondent”) by claiming that it was my opponent who denied any relationship to me.

Now I just see the reason why he did not allowed us to grasp the holy book and swear before God and the Bible before our court proceeds.

Beside our case, Seuika also dismissed five other cases with similar reasons to mine, basing their judgments on  the court- absent party’s (RBPE) decision to grant certificate of determination to MIC, and also his strong reliance on the ill-recorded TRH minute that was design to deserve the sitting allowances the RBPE receives after the TRH at Kagua village.

Seuika  personally involving himself to logging issues of Rennell Island, he forget to serve the interest of the Solomon Island Government who wants every land related matters to be transparently dealt with in the legal process.

He forgets that the Government has to sacrifice its constraint budget by setting aside some money to host this long waited CLAC cases. Particularly at this time the Government can’t bear the nation-wide disaster strike.

He bully us in the CICLAC court and capitalised on our financial weakness to challenge their decisions in the High Court by boasting about people they ruled in favor, whom are closely attached to million dollar logging company.

Solomon Islands is a developing nation but cannot let its economy sustained by crooked monies, that is why the Government has established a legal process to ensure transparency is taken into account to ensure rights of people are recognised and greedy corrupt people are evaded. 

By JOHN ATAI
Honiara

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