I was misquoted: Lomuro denies linking Kiir’s office to $10M saga

I was misquoted: Lomuro denies linking Kiir’s office to $10M saga

The Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro, said a section of the media quoted out of context over the controversial transfer of $10 million earmarked for peace implementation institutions.

On Monday afternoon, Dr Lomuro called for a press conference where he denounced the reports suggesting that the Office of the President had links to the transaction. He never said or implied such a statement.

“My statement in some areas has been presented and reported out of context; I did not say that the president’s office is holding an account for payments for special projects. I did not say that,” Lomuro, said.

While appearing before Parliament’s Committee on Public Accounts and Finance and Economic Planning last Thursday, it was reported that Dr Lomuro admitted before the lawmakers that some of the funds meant for the implementation of the 2018 revitalised peace agreement were diverted to special projects in the president`s office, among other expenditures.

The cabinet minister was quoted as saying that the president directed him to act.

“If the president decides on indirect payment, do I have the power as an executive head? Do I have the power? If the minister is called and told to pay this, do I have the power to change? I don’t have,” Lomuro said, as quoted by Eye Radio.

“If you want, you can go see the president and confirm. If a letter is addressed to the Minister, it cannot be illegal,” he added. 

But while addressing the journalists in his office on Monday, Lomuro changed tune, claiming that his statement was misconstrued.

“What I said and meant was that the president, like any president in the world, holds special files to address any issue in the country, and those special files are assigned to senior officials, advisors, ministers, etc.,” he clarified.

He admitted that the special files are assigned to senior government officials, of which he holds particulars of the implementation of peace agreements.

“I hold and I am assigned a special file that contributes to the implementation of the peace agreement. In this special file, I say payment is through a special account in the ministry of cabinet affairs, not in the office of the president. It should be clear,” he said.

He claimed that this was not reflected in a report that he believes can cause confusion among government institutions.

“It is important to listen and report accurately to avoid complications and the sort of confusion within government institutions,” he said. “The purpose of this press conference is to clarify what was reported by some media houses, and especially Eye Radio. There is something called listen live. We are not avoiding journalists interviewing us at all, but when we are interviewed, we would like to be reflected correctly.”

On Thursday, the Members of the National Assembly summoned top government officials, demanding their clarification on the transfer of funds amounting to millions of dollars, for which Dr. Lomuro appeared to defend himself.

However, according to the House’s report, the funds meant to be transferred to the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC), the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC), the National Human Rights Council (NHRC), and the Judicial Review Commission (JRC) were instead diverted to pay for other activities.

The report alleged that $1.05 million of the funds were channelled to an entity it identified as NAS, while the office of Mr Tut Gatluak Manime, the Presidential Advisor on National Security, received $2 million to facilitate the implementation of Phase II of the Security Arrangements and an unspecified amount to 9BR Chambers, a London-based law firm.