The True Story of Josephine Lagu Yanga and the Ministry of Education (GOSS)-JUBA
Presented by: Benedict Sebit Lagu, USA
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) is a national institution tasked with development of human resources and investments, development of future leaders and cadres to uphold the development of the nation. It is clear from the reports (points) some below that it has become a mechanism for easy monetary flights and laundry. The ministry has not lived up to its mandate under the current leadership and organizational structure. Staff and worker intimidation is a common place. Some support staff of the undersecretary have been attacked in the broad day light in the ministry, by students who claim and are relatives of some big shots in the ministry and elsewhere in the GOSS.
There are some senior staffers who seem to be too eager to practice nepotism and tribalize the ministry, because they have godfathers within the GOSS system. It is now time for the GOSS to own up to its claim that it is trying to stamp out corruption. Education is the fulcrum on which developments in a nation is anchored and there is no alternative to it as such, this is a serious issue and requires serious attention. In the case of South Sudan it deserves to be treated as a national emergency, because it is. The MoEST therefore needs to have the highest caliber of people with capacity to handle this national crisis.
The MoEST is divided into two subsectors. The General Education which is responsible for high schools and down to early childhood education, it was headed by Undersecretary William Ater. The higher education subsector is responsible for post secondary education and this too was headed by Undersecretary Josephine Yanga. The Higher education is responsible for all the universities and higher institutions within the South Sudan. It is responsible for scholarships and assistances offered to post secondary student in Northern Sudan and foreign countries. No double substantial amount of monies flow through MoEST
Under the leadership of Josephine Yanga, there is now a scholarship committee though chaired by the Undersecretary of Higher Education its members are made of directors and senior staffers from varies ministries including gender and veteran affairs. It is no longer one person operations. Assistance or bursaries to student within Sudan was to be posted directly to their accounts. Assistance to students in foreign countries was to be posted through their respective colleges and universities. The era of carrying money (thousands of dollars) in cash had come to an end. No more paying students from hotel rooms at about . No more carrying money across international borders in brief cases but through bank transfer where paper and electronic trails will be transparent and traceable. There was and there is stiff resistance to this reform package because the godfathers cannot scoop part of this money as they have always done. A pilot program to identify registered students in Uganda was successfully launched by the IT associate of the undersecretary. This program was able to filter out the ghost students.
In the South Sudan the universities and their associated contractors inflate the number of their students in order to beat the system. This is illegal, very soon a data base will be launched by higher education to get the accurate number of students in all the institutions within the South and Southern students in the North. It is therefore imperative that the Legislative Assembly in Juba addresses this issue and make it illegal for institutions to falsify figures to acquire more grants. It is the data sets that help in planning for future programs, but falsified data is misleading and undermines proper planning. If the GOSS wants to move forward it must remove the obstacles to creations of databases and reforms. Corruption cannot be rooted out without the correct information and data.
The recent mission to Uganda and Kenya was a team headed by the undersecretary for higher education Josephine Lagu. The undersecretary‚Äôs mission was to meet with the permanent secretaries in Uganda and Kenya in order to negotiate tuitions rate for our students as local resident students rather than pay tuitions as international students, while the rest of the team that included administrators and internal auditors from MoEST would conduct the business of paying the universities their dues and bursaries to the students. It is the obligation of the undersecretary higher education and GoSS to honor the commitment letters she made to the universities not to terminate some students due to none payment of tuition fees. It was obvious that students were instigated not to accept direct payment to the universities but rather advised to riot, and so they did.
Politicization of administrative function began with the minister of education ordering the team to return to Juba immediately. He offered no alternative solutions but travel to Rumbek for two weeks leaving behind chaos. He did not grant the undersecretary the permission she requested to go back to Kampala and retransmit the US$ 323,000.00 back to Juba. On return from Rumbek the minister of MoEST informed the undersecretary that the Minister Interior (GOSS) was in Kampala so it was safe to authorize the release of the money to liaison office. The undersecretary instructed Stanbic Bank to transfer all the money to the Liaison office account . The bank could only transfer it in two installments. The first installment of $200,000.00 was transferred on the first day with the remainder to be transferred the following day. The IT associate got arrested the following day after $200,000.00 was received in the liaison office account. He was charged with transfer of money to Germany and the account was blocked. The rest of the money is yet presumably sitting in the bank. What happen after that was in the media circus. It was a politically motivated publicity stunt to tarnish not only the name of the undersecretary but the name of the entire family of undersecretary. There is absolutely no substance to the allegations of fraud made against her.
The minister gave the undersecretary two letters of explanations and followed it with a letter of suspension. Ministers do not have the right to intimidate senior staffer of the ministries, and can only recommend the suspension of an undersecretary to the council of ministers. It is obvious things have taken personal and political turn, and those who believe they own the South seems to act above the law and public service regulations. The Minister‚Äôs actions are totally illegal and intended to conceal and divert attention away from the real issue of pre-existing irregularities in the Ministry which has led to large sums of monies being siphoned off even before the undersecretary took her position last year.
The undersecretary, Josephine Lagu Yanga is being victimized for whistle blowing and for putting in place robust measures to counter corruption in her Ministry. No other public servant in GOSS has had the courage to do anything about the pervasive nepotism and corruption that has riddled and paralyzed development in South Sudan despite the large sums of oil dollar and the goodwill of the international community to help South Sudan . This has become a high profile case, and possible case study against corruption in South Sudan which will have far reaching implications for GOSS and South Sudan. It now involves Uganda and Sudan, since the IT associate of the Undersecretary has been detained in Uganda. Uganda will do its part of investigations and Sudan too will do its part of investigation into this allegation of fraud. Uganda and Sudan do not have extradition agreement; the IT associate could be transferred to
Juba through Khartoum if any existed. In the absent of this arrangement, such a case is referred to the Interpol. This will be a very slow process as it has to go through high courts in two countries.
The director general (DG) of the ministry has been appointed by the minister to can act while the undersecretary is suspended. The DG moves into the office of the undersecretary immediately and hires some foreigners (Ugandan) technicians to break into Undersecretaries computer. This is grand theft and criminal in every respect. It is wire fraud prosecutable in countries were laws are respected. The undersecretary‚Äôs computer has been contaminated and possibly her documents have been altered to implicate her of fraud so this computer cannot be used as an evidence in any investigation. A Support staff of the undersecretary was beaten by the relatives of the DG (they are supposedly students) and this happened in broad day light on Wednesday 29th of July.
Since Josephine and her team where recalled back to Juba she has had nothing to do nor had any access to the remaining money still sitting in Stanbic bank in Kampala or the money that has been received in South Sudan liaison office in Kampala. She did not take a single dollar from the $323,000 US because the money arrived in the bank in Kampala the day she traveled back to Juba. She has been charged with theft and/or aiding a member of the team to steal $323,000US dollars and arrested in Juba on 20th of August 2009 without any proper investigations into the matter.
The Minister of Education is now facing parliamentary questions about the failure of his administration and loss of funds in the ministry. His future in the ministry is uncertain and is most probably going to be impeached by parliament, but he would want to use the undersecretary Josephine as a scape goat and punished for crimes she did not commit. The minister of education (GOSS) who is from National Congress Party( headed by President Beshir) enlisted the support of minister of interior(GOSS-SPLM) to freeze part of the money in the Stanbic bank after the first installment( $200,000 + bank charges) was received in the liaison office. The IT associate of the MoEST (GOSS) has since been in detention in Uganda.
It is the Ministers of Education and Interior who are now in possession of the money either in Liaison office or in Stanbic bank in Kampala. Arresting Josephine in Juba and asking for bail amount of $323, 00.00 US is gross abuse of power and violation of her rights when the GOSS ministers have the money under their control or possession. The time line in the bank transfer would exonerate Josephine, though we understand the bank officials in Kampala have come under intense harassments.
The family of Josephine knows that she did not take a single dollar of this fund and would proof beyond doubt that this is a political maneuvers intended to tarnish her name and her family name. The political oriented assault is simply because she is the daughter of Gen. Joseph Lagu, chief of Anyanya and former Vice President. The attempt to divert the public attention from the huge amount of monies that have disappeared under the stewardship of the minister of education and GOSS cannot be done by criminalizing her, an innocent person.
Josephine's personal security has been threatened, though she had formally notified the government (GOSS) in writing, there has been no response from the government. The truth shall prevail. The GOSS is
complicit to this hideous case and have taken no action to investigate the matter in line with prevailing international anti-corruption laws.
South Sudan is for all. Every man, woman and child should have the right to live in South Sudan without fear. No one should be excluded from participating in building strong institutions in South Sudan. Josephine‚Äôs desire to establish good governance structures in her Ministry has been met with intense resistance, intimidation and criminalizing her efforts.
We call upon every person, men and women, to stand up against nepotism, corruption and intimidation in order to repair the damaged integrity of South Sudan in the eyes of the international community.
We demand the GOSS to immediately drop the charges against Josephine and launch an investigation into this malicious political prosecution of those who care enough to speak up and take action against institutional corruption and fraud.
We demand the parliament of South Sudan to put in place measures to protect those who speak up and take action against illegal activities that go on day in and day out in GOSS.
We call upon the international community to intervene in the mistreatment of Josephine and her staff, and the abuse of her human rights to which the GOSS is so far complicit.
More information and statements will be released soon including international money laundering activities in South Sudan, database of ghost students and staff supported by GOSS