Lomoro: My case against the US government on course
South Sudan Cabinet Affairs Minister Dr Martin Elia Lomoro has filed a lawsuit against the US government over sanctions that he claims are illegal and in bad faith.
In December 2019, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned him together with his Defence and Veteran Affairs counterpart, Kuol Manyang Juuk, for allegedly extending the conflict in the country, including by obstructing the reconciliation process or peace talks.
In an exclusive interview with The City Review on Thursday, Lomoro said that the United States has no right to impose sanctions on its own and that such measures are in violation of the UN Charter.
“It was illegal, and as far as we know, sanctions imposed by the Office of Foreign Access Control on individuals are only applicable to US citizens. No country is here to administer the Constitution of the United States, and I am not a US citizen,” he said.
Without giving details on the progress of his case against the US government for the sanctions, Lomoro said the process was on course and he would divulge the details about the suit at a later date.
“The penalties are being developed by forces that are against the regime in South Sudan,” he said.
In October 2021, Lomoro told journalists that his lawyers in Scotland and Britain had started filing a lawsuit against the United States government for sanctioning him in 2019.
Asked what further steps his lawyers had made and where exactly they had filed the case, Lomoro said divulging more details would compromise confidentiality.
“I know my rights internationally and domestically, and I’m not going to allow anybody to bully me or play with my rights. So those who try, I will go after them no matter how long it takes, however much it costs. I will not allow anybody to intimidate me and abuse my rights to create a negative perception about myself and to try to present a perspective which does not represent my reputation. “
“I worked hard to reach this and not by favour from anybody, so those who are here, whether they are South Sudanese or foreigners, they should be ready to confront me, and I’m going to confront them for trying to spoil my reputation.” Lomoro alerts those involved in his sanction.
He said, “These are countries that have recruited NGOs and are influenced by South Sudanese inside and outside the country to bring down the regime and the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. So, for them, anybody seen to be a strong supporter of the government in the leadership of President Salva must be weakened.”
Last year, a Kenyan high court ordered the Cooperative Bank of Kenya to freeze its account of Lomoro following an accusation of money laundering by the Kenya Asset Recover Agency. However, he filed a case against the agency and he was confirmed innocent after presenting about 200 documents to defend his case.
Lomoro said freezing his account by Kenya Asset Recovery affected him and his family because he had children in school whose fees needed to be paid and maintained. “Those who acted on false allegations must pay the price for it and when we will let them get out of it”.
“The first step was to free my assets in Nairobi and I have submitted my affidavit detailing my property, how I got them when I got them, and where they are and that was legally proved and the Kenya Asset Recovery was put to shame”
“Now there are three other institutions I am challenging to exhilarate myself from whatever allegations they have tabled against me and any attempt to arrest my assets or any attempt to try to interfere with my life and the life of my family. I will not allow that to happen. So, we are on cost and in the right position” The Minister asserted.
He revealed that some banks in South Sudan are refusing to open accounts for South Sudanese who have been sanctioned, which he argues, is in violation of the country’s constitution.
Lomoro urged some of the South Sudanese and his colleagues who have been sanctioned by the UN and the US to sue any bank that refuses to work with them, saying sanctions are to be implemented in the respective countries.
“Our constitution does not support sanctions, so why would a bank operating in the Republic of South Sudan and why would any institution, including NGOs operating in the Republic of South Sudan, be involved in the implementation of sanctions?” said Lomoro.
About two weeks before departing South Sudan, the former US Charge d’Affaires declared that any official in South Sudan who believes he or she has been wrongly charged and wishes to go to court to prove their innocence is welcome, and that his government will accept the court outcomes.