Two former Uganda Revenue Authority employees accused of stealing nearly half a million US dollars from unnamed South Sudanese, have been released after the court found they were heavily tortured.
Daily Monitor, an influential newspaper, reports that Robert Asiimwe Akanga and Stevens Kalemba were supposed to be tried for charges ranging from abuse of office, theft to committing a felony.
On February 28, 2021, the Director of Public Prosecutions in Uganda had claimed that Akanga and Kalema had stolen $410,000 US dollars, from a South Sudanese national whose name was never revealed in the court record.
Daily Monitor understands that the little the State could reveal about the victim is that he owns a company called GAK Express Co. Limited.
According to court records, the South Sudanese national reported the case to Kawempe Police Station, where it was then referred to the Police Flying Squad Unit, which arrested the duo.
The suspects were taken to the dreaded Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Kireka, Wakiso District, and later taken to the army headquarters in Mbuya, Kampala.
However, the suspects could not be prosecuted after Uganda’s Ant-Corruption Court found that they were tortured by security operatives during and in the wake of the arrest.
After hearing from both sides, Justice Lawrence Gidudu, the head of the Anti–Corruption Court, was left with no option but to let the accused duo walk free.
“The cumulative import of all the circumstances that I have listed above confirm that allegations made by the applicants in regard to their arbitrary arrests and subsequent torture to be true,” said Lawrence.
He added that the rights of the accused were threatened, infringed upon and violated in reference to the country’s constitution.
“The injuries sustained are gruesome to say the least and confirm that there was torture of A1 and A2,” the Judge ruled.
“I am satisfied that the applicants have demonstrated that their non-derogable rights and freedoms were infringed upon, when they were mercilessly battered in the hands of the military that should have had no role in purporting to investigate a criminal case of abuse of office and theft.”
He added; “I hereby declare their trial in criminal session case 1 of 2022 a nullity and acquit them pursuant to Section 11(2) of The Human Rights (Enforcement)Act, 2019.”
Instead, the court has ordered the government to pay more than Shs400 million to the two employees as compensation for torture.
South Sudanese keeping huge cash at foreign homes raise brows
The supposed trial of Akanga and Kalemba, which happened in the wake of another similar robbery involving Ugandan Socialite Charles Olimi also known as Sipapa and his girlfriend has raised questions of why South Sudanese in Uganda opt to keep huge sum of money at homes instead of the banks.
Sipapa was remanded to the infamous Luzira prison along with his partner— Shamira Rukia Nakiyemba, a designer—on charges of aggravated robbery.
The couple, according to court records, robbed South Sudan nationals—identified as Jacob Arok Mul and Mary Ateng of $429,000, two mobile phones, an iPhone, silver blue in colour valued at $3,200 (Shs12m), a Samsung phone, and a flat-screen TV (75 inches) valued at $4,000 (Shs15m).
Other valuables that were robbed include an iPhone 11 Pro, dark green in colour valued at Shs800,000, a Dell laptop, a charger valued at $1,000 (Shs3.8m), an Apple Macbook Air laptop computer valued at Shs5m, and an iPhone valued at Shs5m.
The woes of Akanga (a former URA customs officer), Kalemba (a former URA driver) and Sipapa, have brought into sharp focus the trend of South Sudanese nationals opting to reject banks in preference for stashing rather huge sums of cash in their houses,” the Ugandan newspaper writes.
“There’s no law that I’m aware of that stops a person from having big sums of money in cash,” a lawyer whose specialty is in illicit financing, told Daily Monitor on condition of anonymity such that he could speak freely.
“But holding large amounts of cash may be evidence of involvement in illicit criminal activity,” the lawyer added, triggering money laundering allegations.
But the country’s police reportedly said there is no need for alarm over huge sums of money found with South Sudanese.
“The money is properly accounted for and those people can explain where they got it and how they are going to invest it,” Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, told Saturday Monitor early on September.
But Justice Gidudu said their prosecution, raised more questions than answers because a person who doesn’t trust the banking system in most cases is a money launderer.
“Money that’s laundered is not put in the bank because it can easily be seized by the Financial Intelligence Authority, Bank of Uganda, and so on,” he said during the trial.
“That’s why they keep money in their houses. They keep money in the pillow [cases]. That’s why you see house boys and house maids work with thieves to steal that money.”
They have to keep it under their beds and after they decide how to legitimize it by buying property—[they] buy cars, buy buildings and so on such that they clean the money.”
Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based think tank that trails network of illicit financial flows, corruption and and money laundering says illicit financial flows (IFFs) are part of Uganda’s broader political economy dynamic.
South Sudan remains one of the leading destinations for Uganda’s exports, with a monthly imports from the southern neighbour at 50.6 million US dollars.
Somali Forces Battle Militants For Hotel In Mogadishu: Police
Mogadishu (AFP), Nov 28 – Somalia’s security forces exchanged gunfire with militants holed up in a hotel in Mogadishu on Monday after Al-Shabaab stormed the popular venue near the presidential palace and laid siege overnight.
Sporadic gunfire and explosions could still be heard after dawn around the Villa Rose, a hotel in a secure central part of Mogadishu frequented by lawmakers and public officials.
Police said late Sunday that government forces were seeking to “eliminate” a number of armed militants inside the Villa Rose after attacking the hotel in a hail of bullets and explosions.
National police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said many civilians and officials had been rescued, but did not offer further details.
Witnesses described two massive explosions followed by gunfire that sent people fleeing the scene in Bondhere district. The hotel is just a few blocks from the office of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Al-Shabaab, a militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda that has been trying to overthrow Somalia’s central government for 15 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a 20,000-strong military force drawn from across the continent, praised the “swift” security response to the attack in a statement late Sunday.
On its website the Villa Rose describes the hotel as the “most secure lodging arrangement in Mogadishu” with metal detectors and a high perimeter wall.
– Retaliatory attacks –
Al-Shabaab has intensified attacks against civilian and military targets as Somalia’s newly-elected government has pursued a policy of “all-out war” against the Islamists.
The security forces, backed by local militias, ATMIS and US air strikes, have driven Al-Shabaab from central parts of the country in recent months, but the offensive has drawn retribution.
On October 29, two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart in Mogadishu followed by gunfire, killing at least 121 people and injuring 333 others.
It was the deadliest attack in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years.
At least 21 people were killed in a siege on a Mogadishu hotel in August that lasted 30 hours before security forces could take control from the militants inside.
The UN said earlier this month that at least 613 civilians had been killed and 948 injured in violence this year in Somalia, mostly caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attributed to Al-Shabaab.
The figures were the highest since 2017 and a more-than 30-percent rise from last year.
Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt: a victim of his own success”
By Daniel Akech Thiong
Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt joined the SPLA as a secondary school student like many others who heard the call to arms in 1983 to fight for the liberation of South Sudan. He contributed to several fronts during the struggle including the reversal of the SPLA misfortunes in the 1990s in Equatoria, especially at Bunio, and in the Blue Nile in Yabus, Kurmuk, Geizan, Ora, Shali el Fil, Wadega, and Ulu. He was also known for his innovative skills in laying mines and his other major contribution was the training of the new forces at Bonga. He never stopped learning whenever he had an opportunity. He is mostly self-taught. When opportunities for distance learning began to open in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dr. Majak enrolled and obtained his bachelor’s degree. During the negotiation of the peace agreement from 2002-2005, he attended classes in person in London.
Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt is currently a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the African Leadership Center, King’s College London. He is the former Deputy Chief of the Sudanese Intelligence and South Sudan’s Deputy Defense Minister. He formerly held the role of Senior analyst at the Changing Horizon Institute for Strategic Policy Analysis (CHI-SPA). He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and think tank pieces in media outlets in Africa, the Middle East, and the West, covering various policy spheres. He holds an MSc in Quantitative Finance and a Ph.D. in Financial Economics from SOAS, University of London. He also has an MSc in Security Sector Management from Cranfield University and an MA in War Studies from King’s College London.
Dr. Majak underwent military training in Ethiopia, Israel, and Cuba. These courses turned him into a military intellectual at an early age. Dr. Majak trained some of the best SPLA units and three officers’ cadet shields (5, 6, and 7). His hard work and discipline transformed him from a guerrilla commander into a productive and prolific scholar. His vast experience as a trainer and operational field commander has forged an avid tactical and strategic thinker.
A humane politics
His politics is mostly clean as he does not like to deal under the table. Years ago, a man who had been alleged to have worked against Dr. Majak found himself under the custody of a hostile foreign agency. The man was on a duty in a foreign country doing counterinsurgency duties. The foreign agency caught him and innocently accused him of spying on their country. They took him to a dark place where people rarely survive. Dr. Majak received the news, and he called a colleague of his in a high position (a defense minister) to immediately transfer this person to a military detention center. This was done and thereby saving the life of that person. After this transfer, the two governments were able to negotiate the release (this stage would not have been reached had it not been for the intervention of Dr. Majak). When I heard this story, I asked Dr. Majak why he saved the life of someone whom he knew as working against him. His response was impressive: I won’t know what to tell his children when I meet them in the future knowing that my intervention could have saved their dad’s life.
He also advocates for others. Years ago, Hon. Philip Thon Leek Deng was relieved as the Governor of Jonglei. The office of the President prepared a decree that appointed Engineer Bior Ajang Duot as a national minister in Khartoum. Dr. Majak saw the decree and went to the President and told him a story: Hon. Philip Thon Leek was the only person from Duk and he has been relieved if you give this position to another person from Twic East, our people of Duk will have nobody at the state level and at the national level. This would not be fair. Kiir reversed the order and appointed Hon. Philip Thon to go to Khartoum as a national minister. Dr. Majak, of course, had to plead with his own Twic East Constituency to convince people that his action was in the best interest of Twic East and that he had nothing against Eng. Bior, who would have a technical job at the Ministry of Petroleum.
A bumpy political ride
When I met Dr. Majak D’ Agoot Atem in 2012 in Dallas, Texas, I asked him, over lunch, about the political situation in Juba. There were rumors about his falling out with the President. He told me that the worse that he could do against the President was nothing more than resign from his government. Despite the toxic politics prevalent throughout South Sudan, he cared about the deeply personal relationship between the two of them built over decades of genuine comradeship. During the entire interim period, rumors of coups were commonly circulated, and the name of Dr. Majak had been mentioned a few times. For example, in 2009, Generals Malong and Gregory accused Dr. Majak D’Agoot (also a general) of planning a coup. This turned out to be one of the four false accusations that occurred between 2009 and 2013.
It has been an open secret that General Malong Awan Anei Tong, who had been a close friend of President Salva Kiir, had a beep with Dr. Majak. A part of this beeping had to do with the formation of the SPLA from 1983-1987. The actual formation of the SPLA became completed around 1987. Many familiar names [Pagan Amum, Oyay Deng, Deng Alor, Paul Malong, Bol Madut, etc] you know from the SPLA did not join the SPLA, in the same manner, those of Koriom and Muor-Muor joined: they had their own armed movements and with their own ranks, which all gradually built the coalition that we came to know as the SPLA. When ranks were converted to the SPLA ranking system in 1987, Gen. Malong had already been promoted to a Major, which made him an Alternate Commander. Dr. Majak was still a Captain. The first grievance started in 1991 when Dr. Majak and his entire batch were made commanders. Gen. Paul Malong was still in jail (detained by Commander William Nyuon Bany). This arrest caused Gen. Malong to forfeit his seniority, but he was later promoted to commander with those of Biar Atem Ajang, George Athor Deng Dut, and Pieng Deng Kuol Arop Biong. Gen. Malong had never accepted this guerilla injustice. But he would not have had any issue with Dr. Majak had it not been for other events.
The SPLA was managed at various camps called headquarters (that distrusted each other so badly that you might need to ask for permission to leave your camp to visit another camp). The most important headquarters toward the end of the war were that of the Commander-in-Chief Dr. John Garang and that of his deputy Commander Salva Kiir. Dr. Majak was a rising star and a trusted commander in Kiir’s headquarters alongside those of the late Gen. Dominic Dim. Those of Nhial Deng, Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Oyay Deng, Gen. Bior Ajang, Gen. James Oth, Gen. Kuol Manyang, and others were prominent in Dr. Garang’s camp.
On the administration of the three regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile, and Bahr Al Ghazal, the two power centers pushed their own guys into positions of influence. Commander Salva Kiir managed to push Dr. Majak up on the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal. Gen. Paul Malong who was fully back in the operations in the region might have viewed this negatively.
Then while Dr. Majak was in the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal, he opposed the slave redemption scheme, a project that Dr. Majak saw as a fraud while Gen. Malong saw it as a beneficial venture [this information is in the SPLA archive]. Dr. Majak’s position was not popular among the ranks, and he lost, but he took advantage of this to pursue his studies in the UK. When the SPLA was reorganized in 2005 into a slim force led by one active Lt. General (Oyay) and 15 active Major Generals, Dr. Majak’s name was not on the active list. After President Salva Kiir took over the leadership of the SPLA and the autonomous Southern regional government, he recalled Dr. Majak and gave him the security docket. Dr. Majak once again became the boss of Gen. Paul Malong. Gen. Malong managed to secure the governorship of Northern Bahr Al Ghazal, which relieved him from this uncomfortable position.
When the war happened in December 2013, Gen. Malong had tremendous power. Dr. Majak was among those accused of the coup. He was locked up along with many others. The situation divided people in Juba. There were those who wanted to harm those who were detained and there were those who worked hard to protect those who are detained. This was the precise point where those from Dr. Majak’s camp began to allegedly claim that some politicians from Greater Bor allied themselves with Gen. Paul Malong and sought to harm Dr. Majak.
There are indications that President Salva Kiir realized that there were different games at play. One was a competition within the Greater Bor Community among competing politicians, which quickly degenerated into a Bor County versus Twic East County online war, which was picked up by live video makers. The other was the SPLA commanders trying to settle scores from the era of the civil war under the darkness of the unfolding chaos. President Kiir chose to take a pause and he secretly began to protect Dr. Majak both in Juba and in Nairobi.
Gen. Paul Malong lost his influence. His space, which was more than just being the Chief of Staff, attracted competitors. One individual who initially emerged as the winner was Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial. Both Hon. Nhial and Dr. Majak had been in the administrative leadership of Bahr Al Ghazal during the civil war. They also came from two main power centers with Hon. Nhial owes his rise to Dr. John Garang while Dr. Majak owes his rise to President Salva Kiir. It is natural that they could see each other as competitors. It was an open secret that Hon. Kuol Manyang and Hon. Daniel Awet, two prominent members of the SPLM, favor Hon. Nhial. Given his prominent role in Greater Bor Community, this position of Hon. Kuol antagonized Dr. Majak’s camp. When Hon. Kuol came out in 2021 voicing his concerns about the direction of the country, Dr. Majak’s camp distanced itself from his message as a form of retaliation (the message was good, but the medium was viewed with suspicion).
Recent events leading to the dissolution of the Greater Bor Community Association
Considering the preceding anecdotes, Dr. Majak’s camp finally began to view the politicians who wielded control within the Greater Bor Community Association as people for whom reconciliation is impossible. They began to see the Greater Bor Community Association as a hot spot of hostility toward the person of Dr. Majak, with the help of social media, the Twic East Community began to view antagonism toward Dr. Majak (and equally toward Hon. Rebecca de Mabior) from the community lenses. Dr. Majak had to make a political choice: continue to support an association that has allegedly been working to bury him politically alive or join those who have been voicing complaints about this association and called to abandon it.
Dr. Majak had resisted giving up on the idea of the Greater Bor Community Association for many years despite the pressure from his core support base of Twic East County. But if he were to remain a politician, he had to do what politicians do: realize that some constituencies can never vote for you due to a genuine communal grievance or a manufactured communal grievance, and it is okay to invest your energy elsewhere. There are 78 counties in South Sudan. If Dr. Majak ever decides to run for the Presidency of South Sudan or the Governorship of Jonglei State (which he has never ever mentioned), he can invest in counties where the negative campaign against his brand is less severe while leaving those constituencies that do not like him to his rivals. Even if one were to get 100% votes from the three counties of the former Bor District those will not be enough to guarantee one’s future in national politics. Politics is about ideas and not about clans or which community association you belong to. If your ideas are not needed in one place (including in your own village), you are free to market them in different places including outside of your country. If Dr. Majak chooses to just retire from politics today, his achievements would remain lofty.
Kiir fires, appoints multiple officials in Upper Nile State
JUBA. President Salva Kiir has relieved and replaced several ministers, county commissioners, independence commissioners and an advisor in Upper Nile State.
In a presidential decree read on the national broadcaster – SSBC, President Kiir removed the State Advisor for Economic Affairs, Nyanuer William Nyuon.
He also relieved the Minister of local government and law enforcement, Thon Mun Kerjok and appointed Nyanuer William in his place.
The Minister of Peace Building Tut Simon, the Minister of Trade and Industry Simon Dup Puok Ter, the Minister of Labor, Public Service and Human Resources Development Joseph Mawut Deng, and the Minister of Road and Bridges Monyluak Machar Bilkuei – have all been fired.
The Head-of-state also sacked several independence commissioners in the oil-rich state.
They are the Chairperson Anti-Corruption Commission James Duer Chol, Deputy Chairperson of the Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Commission James Muonyluk Mojok, and the Member of the Human Rights Commission Joseph Lat Kuol.
Meanwhile, he appointed Gatwech Jok Deng as Economic Affairs Adviser to replace Nyanuer William Nyuon.
Jeramiah Deng Akol has been appointed as the new Minister of Peace Building, Simon Ruot Reing as Minister of Trade and Industry, Reath Nyok as Minister of Labor, Public Service, and Human Resources Development, and Thomas Johnson Anye as Minister of Road and Bridges.
Kiir further fired the commissioners; Moses Achuil Guek Deng of Baliet County, Gieth Ador Noor of Akoka County, and Dok Guot Ngor of Renk County.
He appointed Wai Nyuon Wai as Commissioner of Akoka County, Joseph Deng as Commissioner of Baliet County, and Kak Badiite as Commissioner of Renk County
- Somali Forces Battle Militants For Hotel In Mogadishu: Police November 28, 2022
- Dr. Majak D’ Agoôt: a victim of his own success” November 27, 2022
- Kiir fires, appoints multiple officials in Upper Nile State November 27, 2022
- Rebel leader tired of war abandons his group, joins Kiir November 27, 2022
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