February 24, 2014 (JUBA) - Authorities in South Sudan’s state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal are reportedly in the hunt for additional suspects believed to have played roles in the alleged loss of 9.8 million South Sudanese pounds (SSP) worth of public funds.
- Garang Kuot Kuot, the suspended Secretary General of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state April 11, 2011 (ST/File)
Last week, the state Secretary General Garang Kuot Kuot and Sabrino Majok Majok, Director General for administration and finance in the ministry of finance were suspended and are now being detained in connection with the scandal.
Also suspended were several other officials said to be part of these dealings.
An investigation committee has already been put in place by the state minister of public service on the directives of Governor Paul Malong Awan, to establish the facts surrounding the scandal. The committee will, as part of its term references, find out who took the money, for what purpose, the source of authority and establish the exact amount squandered.
“Formal investigation processes have started. Security personnel are talking to them and those who have been appointed to their positions are also helping with provision of necessary documents. So far, it has been discovered the director General for administration and finance, Sabrino Majok Majok, was drawing from the state treasury 105,000 [SSP] on monthly basis,” a cabinet minister told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
“The details for which these funds were being drawn and used are currently being studied,” he added.
The official, who did not want to be identified, claimed Awan had given out clear instruction to security personnel to find out how much money had been squandered.
“More people are being hunted. Others are on the run but they will still be found. 13 people have now been found from a total of 31 people suspected to have been involved in this scandal,” he disclosed, adding that “Some responded voluntarily. Others decided to run away to their villages and to Juba and East Africa.”
The official further claimed the state Governor was in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi and had allegedly asked authorities to search accounts of the suspects and repatriate all “stolen” funds.
Several citizens and officials in the state welcomed the arrest and detention of the two officials, who initially attempted to escape investigations in connection with the missing funds.
“This is how government works. It should not be a big problem,” Ernest Managok Mangok, minister of parliamentary affairs, reportedly said in various forums and gatherings.
Despite the Mangok’s concerns, however, other officials like his youth and sports counterpart, Mareng Chuor Deng, reportedly protested the suspension and detention of the two officials.
“These are senior officials. They should not be handled like that,” many officials quoted Mareng allegedly saying, a stance indicative of senior officials’ involvement in the huge scandal.
Health Minister, Tong Deng Anei, a relative of the state governor and a close ally of the two officials is said to have not uttered any public statement since the incident occurred. Anei was one of the officials and individuals who encouraged the return and subsequently lobbied the employment of the two officials in lucrative positions, despite lacking significant experiences.