February 20, 2014 (JUBA) – Authorities in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state have suspended secretary general Garang Kuot Kuot over his alleged role in the misappropriation of public funds.
Several other officials, including Sabrino Majok Majok, director general for administration and finance, are also reported to have been suspended, some of whom have reportedly been jailed.
An investigatory committee tasked with establishing the facts and make appropriate administrative recommendations is said to have been assembled.
The state minister of public service issued a decree on the directive of state governor Paul Malong Awan on Monday ordering the suspension and arrest of officials suspected of involvement, as well as the formation of the committee.
The amount of money believed to have been misappropriated remains unclear, although multiple sources within the state administration claimed that about 9.8 million South Sudanese pounds (SSP) are alleged to have been squandered by the officials.
The scandal forced authorities to suspend the salaries of teachers and other local workers for the entire month of December.
In a series of interviews, well-placed sources in the state finance ministry told Sudan Tribune that public funds had been lost in syndicated activities involving senior officials.
Many officials in the state ministry of finance have claimed that the central ministry of finance has documents showing that governor Awan had taken 2 million SSP in public funds to Juba.
It remains unclear what became of the money, although it is assumed the funds were to support military activities in which NBeG was engaged in in Jonglei state late last and early this year.
Awan says he provided troops to help the central government contain a spiraling rebellion in the state, but maintains he never took any money.
“People say I took the money, this is false. I actually paid 4 million South Sudan pounds when I first heard of reports of shortfalls in funds to pay the employees. The only thing I took from here was the Mathiang Anyoor,” Awan said on his return to the state on Sunday.
Mathiang Anyoor refers to a military battalion of youth, allegedly mobilised for recruitment and military training to join a reserve force loyal to president Salva Kiir.
Awan was reportedly angered by allegations he pocketed public funds in the name of supporting military operations, threatening to remove those working against him.
“When you have been away from your house, the house becomes dirty with all the dust and scraps. What do you do? You clean it, isn’t it? This is what I will do,” Awan said.
The governor reportedly told state ministers at an emergency cabinet meeting on arrival on Sunday that he would deal with officials who had alleged he pocketed the funds.