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The Shadowy Path of South Sudan’s Martin Elia Lomuro: A Tale of Corruption and Controversy

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Martin Elia Lomuro, the National Minister of Cabinet Affairs in South Sudan, has a long history marred by corruption allegations, financial mismanagement, and shady dealings.

Despite his denials and attempts to portray himself as a victim of misinformation, Lomuro’s track record tells a different story—systemic corruption and exploitation of his high-ranking position for personal gain.

Martin Elia Lomuro

Allegations of a Massive UAE Loan

In late 2023, reports emerged that the South Sudanese government had secured a USD 12.9 billion loan from a company linked to the Abu Dhabi ruling family.

This deal, allegedly negotiated on the sidelines of the COP28 Climate Change Summit in Dubai, was purportedly signed by South Sudan’s former Finance Minister, Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol.

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Oyet Nathaniel Peirino, the First Deputy Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), voiced concerns over the legitimacy and transparency of this loan.

He questioned why such a substantial amount was borrowed without parliamentary approval, highlighting the potential for severe economic repercussions.

In response, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro dismissed the reports as mere “social media allegations,” claiming no knowledge of such a loan and denying the existence of any related documents.

Lomuro’s evasive answers and outright denial only fueled suspicions of underhanded dealings.

Mismanagement of Peace Funds

In January 2024, Lomuro faced intense scrutiny from the TNLA’s Finance Committee regarding the misappropriation of USD 10 million designated for peace agreement institutions.

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The Cabinet Affairs Ministry’s secretariat account mysteriously received funds meant for the National Constitutional Review Commission and the National Human Rights Council.

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Lomuro’s ministry allegedly diverted the funds to unspecified “special projects,” violating South Sudan’s financial regulations.

This unauthorized diversion of funds raised significant concerns about Lomuro’s financial management and integrity.

The Crisis Committee Scandal

Lomuro has been involved in corrupt practices since at least 2016. He was implicated in a scandal with the Crisis Management Committee (CMC).

The government established the CMC to manage the aftermath of the 2013 conflict in South Sudan and to aid in the country’s recovery.

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Confidential documents revealed that of the SSP 447 million disbursed to the CMC, only SSP 84 million could be accounted for.

Over SSP 360 million remained untraceable, raising questions about their misuse.

Lomuro and several other ministers and officials benefited from these funds, blatantly disregarding the Public Financial Management and Accountability Act of 2012.

Money Laundering Charges in Kenya

In 2021, Lomuro faced money laundering charges in Kenya, where the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Court froze his bank accounts containing USD 124,000 due to suspicious transactions.

Authorities eventually cleared Lomuro of these charges.

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However, the case further tarnished his reputation. It also highlighted the international dimensions of his financial improprieties.

The Denial and Reality

Lomuro’s consistent denial of any wrongdoing and his attempts to attribute allegations to social media misinformation reflect a pattern of evasion and deflection.

He has repeatedly dismissed credible reports and concerns raised by parliamentary officials as unfounded rumors.

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For instance, when questioned about the alleged USD 12.9 billion loan, Lomuro claimed ignorance and dismissed the matter as baseless.

His assertion that social media information is unreliable and illegal is an attempt to undermine legitimate concerns and avoid accountability.

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Similarly, regarding the misuse of peace funds, Lomuro justified the reduction in allocated amounts by citing financial challenges.

However, his failure to follow proper procedures and unauthorized diversion of funds indicate deliberate mismanagement.

The Bigger Picture

Lomuro’s actions are symptomatic of a broader culture of corruption and lack of transparency within South Sudan’s government.

He maintained his position despite numerous allegations. This points to a systemic issue. Accountability is often bypassed.

The implications of Lomuro’s corrupt practices are far-reaching.

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Mismanagement of funds meant for peace and development undermines efforts to stabilize South Sudan and rebuild its institutions.

The diversion of critical resources for personal gain exacerbates the country’s economic challenges and hampers progress.

His involvement in international financial scandals, such as the money laundering case in Kenya, highlights the global reach of his corrupt activities.

It underscores the need for international cooperation in holding corrupt officials accountable and preventing the misuse of financial systems.

Conclusion

Martin Elia Lomuro served as South Sudan’s National Minister of Cabinet Affairs. His tenure is riddled with corruption allegations.

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Financial mismanagement and shady dealings marked his time in office. The international community, along with South Sudan’s own institutions, must take a firm stand against such corruption.

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