October 04, 2012 (KAMPALA) – The Secretary of finance for the South Sudanese Students’ Union in Uganda (SSSU) is in police custody in Kampala after being accused of forging signatures and withdrawing more than $50,000 without the knowledge of other members of the union.
Bill Dhieu, the embattled students’ financial chief in Uganda, is alleged to have forged signature for David Lam, the Union’s Secretary General in order to gain access to the Union’s joint account. Lam claims his signature was forged and describes the action as "theft".
James Mayar, the leader of South Sudan students in Uganda, told Sudan Tribune that this misappropriation of public funds has embarrassed the Union.
“We will not condone this,” Mayar said when asked what steps are being taken to stamp out corruption amongst the students who are seen as future for the new country.
Allegations of misuse of public funds are common in South Sudan. In June, President Salva Kiir wrote to over 70 top government officials asking them to return about $4 billion that has been allegedly stolen.
In Uganda, South Sudanese students in higher institutions of learning are governed by the SSSU whose leaders are elected annually. The president of SSSU, Secretary for Finance and Secretary General are the signatories to the Union account. It was not immediately clear how the Secretary for Finance forged one signature and managed to withdraw $34,000 and 59 millions Ugandan shillings (about $23,600) without being detected.
Bill Dhieu, the finance secretary, was arrested on Tuesday and bailed out hours later by officials from South Sudan’s embassy in Kampala with a hope that the case might be settled out of court.
Bill Dhieu, who is now under supervision of South Sudan Education Attaché in Kampala who could not be reached for comment. Education Attaché Lual Akol says he could not comment since is still being investigated.
Students in Uganda fund their organization through donations from South Sudan officials and mismanagement may interfere with donors as well as embarrassing to members who often criticise government officials for corrupt practices.