Aweil Commissioner denies involvement in Dura swindle

Piles of sorghum in the store (photo: courtesy)

By William Madouk Garang

The commissioner of Aweil North County has scoffed at claims that “he had stolen 400 sacks of Dura” terming it a pure lie, asserting that he is not responsible and has no link with the subsidized government sorghum.

This came after a section of unsatisfied local chiefs on Friday stormed Aweil North County Commissioner’s office in Gok-Machar and locked it with new padlocks in remonstration, accusing the head of county of corruption.

According to James not his real name, the executive chiefs and the Commissioner are having heated standoff after it was discovered that the missing 400 sacks of Dura were taken by the head of County to his area Pamat.

“Government released 750 sacks to be brought to Gok-Machar, so the Commissioner stole 400 sacks and when the executive chiefs asked for the missing 400 sacks of Dura, he chased the executive chief from his office” James told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper via phone.  

“From there the executive chiefs gathered themselves in the whole of Aweil North County and closed the County Headquarters, the county Headquarters remained closed since Friday until today (Monday),” he added.

He claimed that on Sunday the Commissioner dispatched security forces from Aweil town in two pick-ups with the intention of arresting the paramount chiefs but the security got resistance from the community.

“The commissioner mobilized the traders to sell the Dura at the prices they wish, he promised them that I am going to bring Dura.  So, you sell the Dura at any amount you like. From there the traders increased the tin [malwa] from SSP 1,200 to SSP 3,000” he stated.

In his disproof, the Aweil North County Commissioner, Victerino Ken Akoon refuted the allegations labeled against him, adding that the Dura responsibility is under a committee formed by the state authorities.

“That’s completely a pure lie, a lie that is not correct, I am not responsible for things like that there is a committee that is formed by the Ministry of Finance – responsible for dispatching Dura and they are the ones selling it” Akoon said.

“That Dura is the responsibility of State authority, for us [commissioners] we are just only supervising it. When Dura is brought and if there is anything [wrong] that’s where we come in with security/police” Akoon said.

He explained that it was just a misunderstanding prompted by delay of trucks due to poor road network from Ariath to Gok-Machar but chiefs mistook it that their Dura was stolen.

“They were given first consignment of 250 sacks of Dura and the second consignment for three Payams of Maual-North was 750 sacks of Dura that is what didn’t reach them on time because the road was bad” the Commissioner explained.

“That small delay caused misunderstanding, they suspected the government. They say maybe the government has stolen our Dura and that’s what caused misunderstanding with some chiefs” he lamented.

He alleged that on Friday chiefs sneaked into the office and put additional locks to his office doors but the issue was later on solved amicably and he had assumed his job.

“The issue is solved only that we are looking for the chiefs who took law into their own hands and that one will be solved administratively” he noted.

The Commissioner said there is a chain of administration from Bomas to Payam administrators, executive directors and the County authorities which the chiefs should have followed to properly understand what is going.

“I have said to them, if they are unable to come to my office then go to the governor to present your letter there and explain everything, if there is anything the governor will call me and I will explain to the governor” he noted.

Arrest made

Last week, the town Mayor of Majok Yinthiou Municipality of Aweil East County with his deputy were detained on suspicion of selling the sorghum (Dura) meant to reduce the commodity prices and salvage the livelihood of ordinary citizens in the state.

Police in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State confirmed that the suspects, Reech Matem and Deng Mangeth were arrested after their immunities were lifted by the state authorities and investigations were ongoing.

Criminal cases opened against them are sections 351, 346, 124 and 84 of South Sudan penal code Act, 2008.

However, a source whose identity remains anonymous, said the arrest of two suspects is an addition to 6 government officials who were arrested in Wanjok in regards to the same matter.

Unconfirmed information revealed that those also arrested are in the administration department along with other officials in Aweil East County of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.

70 truck consignment

On June 2022, a consignment of 70 trucks fully loaded with Sorghum from Sudan’s Sennar and Northern Kordofan states respectively arrived at Northern Bahr el Ghazal State.

A delegation headed by Tut Gatluak Manime, the Presidential Advisory for Security Affairs including Governor Akeen was assigned by President Salva Kiir to purchase Dura to tame the wild market.

The state authority in Aweil said the food grain was to tame the skyrocketing prices of Dura in the markets which had affected the low income family in the state.

The Press secretary in the Office of Governor Tong Akeen noted that the consignment was to normalize the livelihood of common citizens in worse flood-hit states of Warrap, Unity and Aweil.

“Those goods will be sold through the subsidy as one sack of sorghum is SSP 20,000 then state government will determine her price such that the common persons can be able to buy something in the market with affordable price”.

Following the visit of Gatluak’s delegation, officials from the two countries announced the reopening of the Nile River transport system.

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