Opinion by: LB Lokosang
Martin Elia has lost it big time, hasn’t he? Doesn’t he realize that once a case is before a court, rants such as these can count against him? He should have first sought legal representation before accepting to talk to the media. There is the principle that you have got the right to remain silent, otherwise any words you utter will be tendered against you before the court of law.
His ranting will not vindicate him, but will rather make his case worse! Much as I am not a lawyer, Martin is prejudicing the court already. He is making it hard for the lawyer whom he says he will engage in the East African Court of Justice in which case the Republic of Kenya will be a respondent.
Some observations about Martin Elia’s mumbling:
1. He accuses the Kenya Government of a ‘political witch-hunt’. This is a lazy and desperate attempt to clear his name from the shutter of disgrace it got. Such accusation can count against Martin should the Kenyan Attorney-General decide to take it up against him. The case against Martin is categorized as money laundering and illicit cash flow. It has not looked at his political stature. It is tabled and argued in court along those lines. His position as a cabinet minister and political post-holder count to naught. The law is above all and was presented by the Republic of Kenya versus an individual. That individual can even be a sitting president. He is intimidating and contemptible to the court already.
2. He is charging the Government of Kenya for perpetuating the interest of the Government of the United States. This is self-defeating. The Kenya Assets Recovery Agency (the prosecuting party) filed evidence, which are records of a bank in Kenya. The court found this evidence to be indisputable and merits conviction. Martin, on the other hand, has no evidence to implicate a Kenya-America conspiracy. Both countries can decide to sue Martin Elia for such baseless accusations.
3. He denies not having been contacted by neither KARA nor the court that ordered the freeze of his accounts and balances. He spoke without first consulting the learned experts in law, specifically regarding the nature of the crime being investigated. In the first place, did the US Treasury contact him when investigating his earlier case of “inciting continuation of the conflict in South Sudan’ (not the exact words used in the USTD charge sheet)? He didn’t need to be contacted because his bank (the Cooperative Bank of Kenya) was/is the respondent. The suspect’s money is kept there. The bank had to cooperate because not complying would result in a collateral risk. I am sure that when opening an international bank account Martin signed an undertaking that spoke of money laundering and forfeiture of some right to disclosure of transactions when a court comes asking. Commercial banks are not Islands but subject to the so-called “New World Order” or globalization. If the international lived for over 15 years in the UK, Martin should have known these caveats.
4. He claims that the money which amounts to hundreds of thousands in a single bank alone, is from personal investments in the form of housing properties and other businesses. In the first place, how did he amass the wealth to acquire these properties? He left South Sudan as a veterinary officer around 1988 to go to study in Scotland as a postgraduate st7dnt and after completing his course, he sought refuge in the UK and was granted. He then lived and worked in the UK earning a salary in a vet’s pharmaceutical company as a consultant. He was renting a modest house in West London and until 2005 was driving a modest, non-luxurious Voxwagen soon. He returned to South Sudan in 2005 as a politician after being appointed by President Salva Kiir as the first minister of Agriculture. Those who knew him that time could testify that Hon Martin Elia was by no means a rich guy. Secondly, how confident is he that the money he was banking in Kenya was from verifiable sources, with all the paperwork that cash flowed into the account from his businesses. Is he discounting the possibility that the case against him could have built up from an internal whistleblower? The report on the case has talked of “suspicious sources”. This alone is quite telling. For example, in 2008 Martin Elia struck a deal with a dubious “company” that was interested in rehabilitating the over 90-year old teak forest at Loka Town, which also happens to be his hometown.
The deal was that the so-called investor (I met them at this minister’s house; two white folks) would give the Loka Community people 25 000 US Dollars as surety and the investor cuts the teak timber and exports it. It took the intervention of one Mr. Morris Lom9dong who wrote directly to President Kiir and treated to file the matter before the court, that the suspicious project was effectively brought to halt. But the shrewd minister already benefited from the deal anyway. A mansion was completed by this company and other two properties came up for ground up; one close to the airport and another one at Atlabara overlooking the Tombura Road. The question is how could a former civil servant cum minister earning less than $300 a month get to amass property including a modern four-storied building close to the US Embassy in Juba? If this would not qualify as suspicious sources, then what would?
5. He is threatening to take his case, which is complaining of victimization, to the East African Court of Justice. Well, this is his inalienable right and that should have been the short statement to give to the press, rather than the emotional diatribe against his accusers, as well as the press. However, Martin seems disillusioned with the fact that to pursue this case, wouldn’t he rather seek an appeal at the Kenya Supreme Court? What would his charge against the Kenyan Court that issued a verdict for his bank account freeze be like? I think he should be well prepared to lock horns against a versatile institution – the KARA – that I presume meticulously put together that case of money laundering and won. I hope he has the cheque to win this battle in court.
6. He castigates those commenting about his case and rubbing it in his face, this author included of course. He calls them “jealous” and “cheap politicians who languish in the social media because it is free”. My response to this harangue is simply to laugh at it. It is an indication of sour beans. We understand that.
7. He said he will also sue the media, which is another pathetic desperate act of face-saving. It is futile. The media people are simply doing their job of informing the public about what transpired in a court. You got to be naïve to go after them. Kenya is not South Sudan where media is treated with contempt.
All in all, I wish Honorable Dr. Martin Elia Lomurö, current South Sudan Minister of Cabinet Affairs, who in his words is a ‘British trained scientist’, good luck in his attempt to recover his battered image.
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