By Philip Buda Ladu
The Minister of Mining in the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) Martin Gama Abucha appointed to the position under the SPLM-IO ticket in the power sharing unity government was arrested and briefly detained by the SSPDF command on his way to Nimule.
The minister’s interception and brief detention was first revealed in an open letter addressed to the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) by Brigadier General Okeny George M. Lam the ANY-NYA Division CDR in Ashwa Cantonment of the SPLM/A-IO.
According to Brig. Gen. Okeny, the Mining Minister Martin Gama was intercepted on Saturday at around 7:30 am, in Nimule border, where he was said to be travelling to the Uganda’s District of Adjumani for a funeral rite.
“This morning (Saturday) at 7:30 am, the government security forces at Loa followed up the National Minister of Mining and intercepted him in Nimule. Violently slapped him two times at the scene of the event before they were driven off. The minister was on his way to Adjumani District of Uganda for funeral rites,” Gen. Okeny narrated the incident.
He said the minister was intercepted and briefly detained along with four other people who were accompanying him, they included: Lt. Col. Diliga James, Captain Madile Charles, Pvt. Anyazo Patrick and the Minister’s driver Mr. Lagu.
Minister Abucha and his four accompanying members were allegedly briefly detained at Loa Barracks under the Command of Lt. Col. Atem Mading. The minister’s group was said to be in possession of two pistols.
In his message Gen. Okeny said the Anya-Nya Division Commander in Ashwa Cantonment site described the incident as purely deliberate violation notwithstanding the immunity the National Minister must enjoy.
Gen. Okeny called for an investigation by CTSAMVM into what he called barbaric act by the commander in charge Lt. Col. Atem Mading adding that those behind him repeating violating the R-ARCSS implementation without holding them accountable. “This is unfortunate and must be treated as a matter of urgency,” he echoed.
Puok Both Baluang, the SPLM/A-IO Director for Information and Public Relation and the Acting Press Secretary in the Office of First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar when contacted on the matter told this reporter they didn’t get any reason for the arrest of the minister.
“There is no any genuine reason given to us on why a National Minister was unlawfully detained by the security forces. Fortunately, the situation has been resolved, after a swift intervention from the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA-IO hence Abucha has been released and proceeded on his journey” Puok said.
“After few hours of detention, he has been released however we condemn this act in the strongest terms possible and we call for a rapid investigation of the incident and the people behind it must be held accountable. Because this is a violation to the agreement and is a violation to the rights of the constitutional post holder who has impunity,” Baluang stressed.
However, when contacted by No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper the Spokesperson of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang neither confirmed the detention of the Mining Minister nor denied but instead referred this reporter to the Presidency.
“I haven’t got any information about that. But you find out from the Presidency, find out from the Presidential spokesperson!” Gen. Lul, the SSPDF spokesperson responded on the inquiry to confirm the incident.
No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper repeated efforts to reach the Press Secretary of President Salva Kiir were futile by press time as repeated calls to him went in vain.