Opinion | How I was betrayed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party (SPLM-NCP)
“If I had been demoted and dismissed from the Army (SSPDF) because of the administrative charges, how many Generals would have been demoted and dismissed from the SSPDF for the same charges specially those who refused to be transferred from their previous units but they ended up being redeployed to other lucrative units of their own choice after refusing transfer and those who committed crimes, went to the bush and came back with higher ranks than the ranks they were given before they defected.”
OPINION | After President Museveni and I saved him from being toppled by Dr. Riek Machar and his group from 2013-2018, President Kiir gave orders to former Chief of Defence Staff Gabriel Jok Riak to arrest and fly me to Juba on May 31, 2018, from my home town of Mayom where I went to offer some traditional sacrifices on my late father’s grave after spending a decade without visiting his grave.
I was attacked in Mayom town on May 31, 2018, around 1200 hours by pro-government militia forces based in Mayom area under direct command of Major General Mathew Puljang Top. Three soldiers were killed and two others wounded among my few personal bodyguards who were accompanying me home; while I did not fight in self-defense because it was not my intention to fight them and that I did not want to do anything stupid that would be used against me in the court of law. They arrested, shackled and flied me to Juba the following day by a small caravan plane.
On arrival at Juba international airport, I was manhandled and thrown in a small national Security van that did not have any ventilation save for a few small holes created to let in some air. They went and threw me in an old underground bunker that was initially used as a torture chamber in Juba by the former Sudan military intelligence during the war to throw in and lynch suspected South Sudanese who were accused of being the SPLA supporters.
When Sudan Armed forces withdrew to the North, the bunker became a dwelling ground for snakes, rats and other harmful and poisonous creatures. The South Sudan People Defence Forces (SSPDF) Military intelligence instead converted it for the same use against the South Sudanese who are accused of opposing to President Kiir regime. Many South Sudanese People specially from Dinka Awiel, Nuer and Equatorians have been lynched and tortured secretly in that bunker. Decomposed bodies could be smelt inside the bunker that is 4 by 8 meters long.
I was bundled into the bunker for three days with my legs and hands shackled and without food and water. I was forced to sleep on the rough floor and struggling to safety whenever I spotted a snake or a rat charging towards me in the dark; rolling on my belly from one side of the bunker to the other.
I urinated in my pants for three days until when I was transferred from this military intelligence custody under a cruel military intelligence officer, Brigadier General Kuel Garang Kuel to military Police cells where the handcuffs were broken and removed because there were no keys to unlock them. The keys were thrown in a toilet by Brigadier Kuel Garang Kuel fearing that the handcuffs would be removed by his soldiers in his absence, because the soldiers manning the custody were not happy with the way I was being humiliated despite being a comrade and the one who served in various positions in the SPLA (SSPDF). and according to the South Sudan interim laws, “an accused person is presumed not guilty until proved in the court of law”.
On June 16, 2018, the Chief of Defence forces formed an investigation committee under Major Gen. Late Michael Manok Kot to look into my case to investigate my alleged rebellion against the government and whether I was in contact with the rebel leader Gen. Paul Malong Awan or not.
The charges were framed by Major General Mathew Puljang Top himself and politicians of my home area Bul Nuer, especially Tut Keaw Gatluak and Joseph Manytuil, the Governor of Unity State in order to get rid of me.
The committee recommended to the former Chief of Defence Staff General Gabriel Jok Riak that they did not find me guilty of the alleged offences and suggested that I should be released immediately; but the Chief of Defence staff was very furious with the committee’s outcome and he ordered the committee to sit again and investigate further until they should find me guilty.
The committee upon being forced to redo the investigation, conducted a fresh investigation and assumed that they found me guilty and recommended that I should be arraigned in a General Court Martial (GCM) to answer the charges.
On January 3, 2019, the Chief of Defence Staff formed a General Court Martial that consisted of seven members namely:
Major Gen Thiik Achiek Hol- Court President
Brig. Gen Riak Tiop Deng – Member
Brig. Gen Duol Gony – Member
Brig. Gen Nhial Arou -Member
Brig. Gen Angui Geng – Member
Brig. Gen Hillery Oduho- Member
Brig. Gen Abubaker Mohamed – Member
On February 4, 2019, I appeared before the General Court Martial (GCM) and was asked if I had any objection to the formation of the members of the panel. I told the court that I had reservation with the whole panel due to the following reasons:
First, the SPLA Act 2009, Article 35 (4) says, in all cases, the presiding officer shall be a senior in rank to the accused and that all members of the panel be at least equivalent in rank to the accused. Therefore, in my case, the presiding officer should have been a Lieutenant Gen. and six Major Generals.
Secondly, the SPLA Act 2009, Article 36 (2), says that the General Court Martial (GCM) shall be convened by the Commander-in-Chief when the person being tried is in the rank of a Brig. Gen. and above and the Chief of Defence Staff should convene a court in respect of other junior officers in the lower ranks. The court had been wrongly constituted and had to be overhauled in conformity with the above legal procedures.
The Chief of Defence Staff recommended new names to the Commander-in-Chief to reconstitute a new General Court Marital (GCM) which the President reconstituted hereunder:
Major Gen Thiik Achiek Hol- Court President
Major Gen Atem Duot Atem – Member
Major Gen Peter Gatwech Gai- Member
Major Gen Akuei Ajou Akuei- Member
Major Gen Isiah Paul Lotole – Member
Brig. Gen Abubaker Mohamed – Judge Advocate
The court conducted 17 sessions upon which it collected views from witnesses. The last session was held in a closed door where closing arguments and mitigations were held.
The court dropped some of the charges such as Article 60 that related to treason and Article 61 for offences relating to security that had been levelled against me earlier.
The only charge that remained was, disobeying of lawful orders from your superior that were found in Article 67 and Standing Orders Article 69, SPLA Act 2009.
I was not entitled to a fair trial because the General Court Martial (GCM) was politically manipulated and received incentives in the form of bribery at the end of every session from the very people who masterminded my arrest. It is worth mentioning that, at the end of every session, a vehicle with the Presidential numberless plate from the house of the Presidential Security Advisor Hon. Tut Gatluak could be seen openly coming to the court to pick up some GCM members and dropping them at their respective homes.
They could be seen giving a copy of that day’s session to the driver to take it to Hon. Tut Gatluak so that he was informed about the day’s court session. This had been continuing until when there was a serious tie vote among the members of the GCM, because there was no substantial evidence that could be used to convict me.
However, the tie was simply broken because of rampant poverty in South Sudan since the GCM members were bribed with hundreds of U.S dollars, according to the one of the persons who I will not mention here, who was among the team that went and paid the money to some powerful members among the GCM members who could influence the whole court.
The GCM was forced to break a tie and improvised an arbitrary decision based on available administrative articles such as an article 67 “disobeying of lawful orders from your superior” and article 69 “standing orders” SPLA Act 2009, which are very administrative and only can be applied in the case involving a junior SPLA personnel. Therefore, the GCM endorsed the following ruling:
Demoted me from the rank of Major General to Private
Dismissed me from the SSPDF to civilian
Sentenced me to one year imprisonment from the date of my arrest on May 31, 2018, which was even elapsed during the trial.
After reading out the ruling, the GCM asked me whether I would like to appeal against the verdict, which I turned down as there was nowhere, I could appeal my case against the GCM verdict, because the same powerful people who influenced and manipulated the GCM decision, could also do the same in the outcome of my appeal. I gave up and left everything as it was decided by the GCM and instead made the following statement:
Honourable Court, when I moved from Wau to my home in Mayom, I asked for permission from the Commander of the Ground Forces on phone and he gave me five days and directed that I immediately proceed to Wau and hand over the command of 5th Infantry division to the new Commander once I am back from my home.
The Commander of the Ground Forces came to this Honourable Court and denied that he did not grant me permission to go home. I requested this Honourable Court to contact the Mobile Telecommunication Company (MTN) to provide this Honourable Court with my audio with the Commander of the Ground Forces, but this Honourable Court turned down my request in favour of the Commander of the Ground Forces.
I talked with the Commander – in – Chief, President Salva Kiir, in Mayom through the phone of Gen. Akol Koor on the allegations that reached the President’s office that I wanted to defect and join the rebels. But when the Commander-in-Chief found out that the allegation was not true and that I only went home to offer traditional sacrifices on my father’s grave, the Commander-in-Chief himself gave me five more days to spend at home before going back to Wau. The Commander-in-Chief told me that he would inform the Chief of Defence staff that he had given me five days off.
I was attacked by Maj. Gen. Mathew Puljang, I thought with orders from the SSPDF headquarters and his soldiers killed three of my bodyguard and wounded two others. Interestingly, you have not arrested or demoted him to a private like what you have just done to me, yet I did not fight back because I knew that they are the government forces and I had to surrender to them knowing that they might have been ordered by the SSPDF headquarters to arrest me.
It has appeared in this honourable Court that nobody ordered Maj. Gen. Mathew Puljang from the SSPDF to attack and arrest me. Maj. Gen. Puljang was acting on his own without being ordered by the SSPDF headquarters to do so, but to my surprise, no action was taken against him by the SSPDF command.
Instead, I am the one who has been arrested and charged with treason and other charges, while Maj. Gen. Puljang was the one who killed three of my bodyguard and wounded two others yet we did not fight them back in self-defence. Therefore, Mathew Puljang Top could be charged with murder.
If I had fought Maj. Gen. Mathew Puljang in self-defence, I wouldn’t have been arrested as there would have been a lot of deaths on both sides in Mayom town. That is why my soldiers were only the ones killed and wounded in cold blood simply because I did not fight back.
Honourable Court, the verdict that you have just passed on me, that is a one-year imprisonment sentence starting from the date of my arrest on May 31, 2018, elapsed last May 2019, yet you are still keeping me in jail. This is very humiliating to my person.
Honourable Court, this case is politically motivated by a few politicians from my own community Bul Nuer who are conspiring and colluding with the Chief of Defence Staff in order to get rid of me politically and militarily.
Therefore, I feel betrayed by these politicians and officers from my community in the face of the SSPDF command despite the immense contribution that I have made in defence of this country and its constitution. END OF MY STATEMENT!
The GCM decision was supposed to be taken to the President for confirmation according to the Article 89 (2), SPLA Act 2009, that states “the findings and sentence of a General Court Martial (GCM), shall be confirmed by the President and Commander -in-chief. In my case, the President did not confirm the decision of the General Court Martial (GCM), neither did he delegate a warrant to anyone to do so on his behalf or announced any Presidential decree on the SSBC National T.V. as would be the case of a senior officer like I am.
It is worth mentioning that, the legal advisor in the office of the President late Molana Majok Mading connived with Hon. Tut Gatluak and General Gabriel Jok Riak not to submit the decision of the GCM to the President for confirmation, because of some legal irregularities involved in the court procedures which were likely to be in my favor if it were submitted to the President who would be much obliged by the law to dismiss the case altogether.
They went ahead and announced the GCM decision at a military parade at Bilpam (SSPDF HQS), because Late Molana Majok Mading wrote to the Chief of Defence Staff in his capacity as legal advisor in the office of the President giving a greenlight to announce the judgement without any warrant signed by the President himself to confirm my sentence.
They went and briefed the President about what they had done illegally and by telling people that the President was so busy with other national issues that he could not sign the confirmation letter by himself. The President kept quite without reacting to the illegality of the announcement, instead the President told them to wait for any negative reaction from the public or Army so that he would pretend as if he was not aware of what was going on in the General Court Martial (GCM) and he would eventually try to dismiss the case if things gone wrong in the public or within the Army.
Below is a letter written to the Chief of Defence Staff by Late Molana Majok Mading to give a greenlight to the Chief of Defence Staff to make the pronouncement of my conviction at a military parade ground as planned by Chief of Defence Staff and Hon. Tut Gatluak. The letter reads as follows:
Subject: Confirmation of the Verdict of General Court Martial (GCM) Verdict on Criminal Case No. 22/2018 of Maj. Gen. Stephen Buoy Rolnyang
I refer to the referenced letter Number GCM/J/351/2019, from the President of the General Court Martial Maj. Gen. Thiik Aciek Hol dated October 21, 2019, addressed to H.E. the President and Commander-in-Chief of the SSPDF, in which the GCM read out the verdict to the above-mentioned convict.
According to the documents on record, and after the court ruling, the convict was asked as to whether he wishes to exercise his right of appeal or not in accordance to the provisions of Section 88 (2) of the SPLA Act, 2009, read together with Section 263 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 2008.
The Convict is on record as having been satisfied by the verdict and hence did not intend to appeal.
Therefore, H.E. the President has confirmed the verdict of the GCM in totality and he has further directed that the convict should be released forthwith.
Have the assurance of my highest regards and consideration
Molana Majok Mading, Legal advisor Office of the President,
After I was released from the jail, I happily rejoined my family and stayed at my home for two years and later decided to register and establish a security firm called Jamus Security Service (JSS) in Juba at least to support my family financially so that I should not depend on government support anymore.
When there was an opening for a position of a governor, I decided to submit my application to the office of the SPLM with an intention to be appointed as the governor of Unity state based on a popular demand from the people of unity state to serve them as their governor to reconcile them, restore peace and rebuild the much-needed beautiful social fabrics, harmony and co-existence that used to be among the communities of Western Upper Nile that were destroyed by the SPLM infighting.
When some powerful members of the Sudan People Liberation Movement and National Congress Party (SPLM-NCP) found out that my application for the governorship position has reached the office of the SPLM and my name was about to be shortlisted and subsequently be presented to the President for final endorsement, they went and talked to the former SPLM Secretary General Nunu Kumba and gave her good amount of money and Kumba immediately removed my name in favor of Joseph Nguen Manytuil to replace my name in the race for governorship candidate to re-appoint Joseph Nguen Manytuil as the governor of Unity state to be in office again for indefinite period of time; while doing nothing for the people of Unity state. Instead, he is discriminating and killing the people of Unity state on clannish line; as the case of what has been going on now in the South of Unity state areas of Koch, Leer and Mayendit, where thousands of people have been displaced, burning down all villages, killing children and elderly people who could not run for their lives and committed all forms of evil acts including gender -based violence.
The SPLM-NCP quest to get rid of me did not stop there. They had planned to assassinate me when Joseph Manytuil was finally re-appointed the governor of Unity state; when populations of Unity state reacted negatively and protested in vain against the re-appointment of Joseph Nguen Manytuil as the governor of unity state. The SPLM-NCP concluded that it was me who instigated people of unity state to protest against the re-appointment of Joseph Nguen Manytuil. They then onwards, staged several assassination attempts on me but failed because I maintained a low profile in Juba when I received such an information about my possible assassination by the SPLM-NCP.
When I felt an high-level of insecurity targeted against me, I finally decided to sneak out of Juba to flee for my life and joined General Paul Malong’s group in Nairobi because I was pushed beyond the limit by the SPLM-NCP.
When I found Malong’s group was negotiating with the regime for potential peace agreement that would pave the way for the possible return of General Paul Malong to Juba to work again with the SPLM-NCP, I decided to pull out from Malong’s group with the rest of my colleagues who defected with me from Juba and formed a new movement called the South Sudan People’s Movement and South Sudan People’s Army (SSPM/SSPA) with the aim of liberating the people of South Sudan from the SPLM-NCP politics of tribalism, Hatred, injustice, repression, institutionalized massive corruption, bondage and to install a genuine democratic system of governance that would pave the way for the people of South Sudan to choose their own leaders in order to move the country forward.
In conclusion, President Kiir has successfully marginalized several members of the SPLM who fought in the bush with him to liberate the people of South Sudan and he has attached himself to the National Congress Party Plus (NCPP) and together they have formed what is so -called the Sudan People Liberation Movement and National Congress Party Plus (SPLM-NCPP).
President Kiir loves the elites of the (SPLM -NCPP) simply because they have no shame and do not work through official channels. They work out everything with their heads to avoid being caught for accountability.
After they have depleted the national coffers, The SPLM-NCPP has disgracefully resorted to begging money from the Middle East kingdoms’ countries and come back with millions of dollars and divide the money among themselves at the expense of the People of South Sudan, including a recent purchase of a big real estate for the President in Dubai, all to appease the President to work more closely with the SPLM-NCPP team and continue to marginalize the real SPLM members who always get the leftover of what they eat as the country is starving economically from lack of funds to pay the Army and civil servants who have not been paid for the past 28 months now.
What the SPLM-NCPP does not know is that the war that they have started will not end well with them; it is beyond them and they will not enjoy the wealth that they have accumulated in the Middle East countries upon their retirement. Furthermore, it has now reached to the extent that one of the powerful members of the SPLM-NCPP has been given a free rein to take money out of the central bank and other financial institutions in the country without documents and sell out the country’s natural resources in advance; while the rest of the real SPLM members are sitting back, folding their arms watching as money is being stolen in broad daylight simply because they fear being arrested or relieved from their current positions.
I would like to advise the real SPLM members in Juba that it is high time to rescue the country because the situation has become a disaster. What are you waiting for? This is the very situation you should wake up and ready to die honorably for the sake of the nation. If I say the SPLM-NCPP elites, I mean President Kiir, Tut Keaw Gatluak, Vice President Abdelbagi Ayii, Hon. Mayik Ayii, Hon, Dhieu Mathok, Hon. Tor Deng Mawien, Governor of Awiel, Governor of Unity state Governor of Eastern Equatoria among others.
This group was initially called the Sudan People Liberation Movement and National Congress Party (SPLM-NCP), when they were namely H.E The President, Hon. Tut Gatluak, Hon. Louis Lobong, Hon. Joseph Nguen Manytuil, Hon. Tor Deng Mawien, Hon. Mayik Ayii, then they were joined later by another group namely H.E Vice President Abdelbagi Ayii, Hon, Dhieu Mathok, Hon. Governor of Awiel among others and the name changed from the SPLM-NCP to Sudan People Liberation Movement and national Congress Party Plus (SPLM-NCPP). This group is the one holding our country hostage in everything.
The real SPLM members in Juba are not included in the above-mentioned list because they are equally suffering alongside the ordinary South Sudanese people for the negligence that they have created by selecting President Kiir in the first place to replace late Dr. John Garang De Mabior, the hero, while they knew it very well that President Kiir would not live up to the expectations of the People of South Sudan.
I would like to warn the SPLM real members in Juba to stop engaging with the SPLM-NCPP group from now, otherwise when tsunami comes it will be too late for them to be differentiated because the battle to rescue the people of South Sudan has already begun and it is just a matter of time one will fight with his own bodyguard in his/her own compound and by that time it will be a worse situation for all of you when all population of South Sudan turn up against you .The people of South Sudan are now awake and can no longer be cheated.
Last but not least, I would like to remind H.E the President that when we were in Thiet-Yinthkuel, Bhar El Ghazal in 2001, when he was our overall commander for the SPLA 3rd Front and when he sent me with Commander Pieng Deng to go to fight and capture Raja, I narrated to him the story of this National Congress Party (NCP) group when they were still operating alongside the Sudan Government fighting us as hardened militias and how they were playing their own cards in the Sudan. In fact, all what I told him last time has become true now and he cannot deny it.
They have successfully landed in Juba and captured him alive and are busy using him to enrich themselves at the expense of the people of South Sudan and particularly the President’s colleagues and comrades who fought alongside him during the liberation struggle in which some of the best comrades have been killed and their families are suffering on the streets of Juba nobody is helping them out and they will never be helped out as long as the President Kiir is continuing to work with this group, because even those who are still alive are equally suffering, leave alone the families of those who have died.
The NCPP group has charmed and anointed your very heart of the liberation struggle that we all know and you are now unable to just recognize a few faces of the SPLM/SPLA revolutionaries who have survived the liberation war. Your eyes are so blinded and jammed and could only see the NCPP group more clearly than seeing the real SPLM/SPLA members.
Mr. President, all what I want to tell you here is that there is no enough time left for you to repent before the rest of the SPLM members and the People of South Sudan in general. Just do your worse and know that the end is near and you will not escape it at all and nobody shall come to your help. We will all deny you and allow you to carry your own cross alone.
Mr. President, the humiliation and damages that you have done to the beautiful historical Movement, the SPLM/SPLA are irreparable.
Just Prepare yourself for the worse Mr. President!!!
Important relevant Questions:
How come a General of such caliber be demoted and dismissed from the army on a mere administrative charge that could be handled administratively? Is it like that in other countries? Or is it only in South Sudan politics?
How many Generals defected and killed people yet they came back to rejoin the government even with higher ranks than the ranks they had before they defected. Have they been arraigned in any court of law to answer on their charges of defection and killing of the people?
What is the exact crime that I committed that could lead to my demotion and subsequent dismissal from the Army, if the President would have issued a decree on the National T.V (SSBC) so that the people of South Sudan would have a clear picture of what exactly had transpired in my case?
If my charges were initially connected with the treason or rebellion as it was viral on the social media, why did the General Court Martial (GCM) acquit me of all the charges on treason and rebellion, and how did the same General Court Martial went around and demoted my rank and dismissed me from the Army after all? Or may be their mind was preoccupied that day with Tut Keaw money? Because if the General Court Martial had found me guilty of treason or rebellion charges in the first place as it was the initial case, it would have been their golden chance to sentence me 20 years’ imprisonment under article 60, SPLA Act 2009.
Why did they release me from jail if I was really found guilty of any crime?
If I had been demoted and dismissed from the Army (SSPDF) because of the administrative charges, how many Generals would have been demoted and dismissed from the SSPDF for the same charges specially those who refused to be transferred from their previous units but they ended up being redeployed to other lucrative units of their own choice after refusing transfer and those who committed crimes, went to the bush and came back with higher ranks than the ranks they were given before they defected.
Which officer is better than I am in terms of Military performances and academic credentials among the deadwood Generals who have remained in the SSPDF? Or are they just the caliber President Kiir wants to work with?
Will the SSPDF ever be transformed into the National and Professional Army? Or will it remain as a semi-militarized factional force for the rest of its life as long as President Kiir still in power?
Couldn’t this humiliation and mistreatment be considered as a big slap in the face of all Generals of the SSPDF at Bilpam and indeed in the face of the law of the country.
NOTE: The next article will be like: Who killed Kerubino Kuanyin Bol in 1999?
In a nut shell, late Kerubino Kuanyin Bol was not killed by Late Peter Gatdet Yak as some people say, but who killed him? Stay online for the next article in a few weeks’ time.
I thank you all for reading this long piece. May God bless you and bless our beloved country South Sudan.
The author is the Chairman and Commander in Chief of South Sudan People’s Movement/Army (SSUM/A).
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