By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda, FEB/21/2017, SSN;
Sometimes when I see injustice being done against any South Sudanese, I forget my life because injustice is not a friend to anyone. This is because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (Martin Luther King, Jr).
Justice done selectively is injustice done selectively. This is because when the law is applied equally and equitably then there is no injustice no matter how harsh the law may be.
Law is the content of justice, while the facts of the case provide the context for justice. When justice is being done, it is critical that the law is applied generally in accordance with the facts of the case.
It therefore implies that those who enforce the law must respect the law and work according to its spirit. The law must take its course but should not take the course to cause injustice to the innocent or to cause more pain to one group of criminals than others who have committed the same offence.
Thus, it is our common duty to detect injustice in our communities and to fight it wherever and whenever it raises its head. Though there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest (Elie Wiesel) against injustice.
In the society where injustice is the law, those who are fighting for justice must be guided by the words of Mahatma Gandhi who observes that let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day that, “I shall not fear anyone on Earth; I shall fear only God; I shall not bear ill will toward anyone; I shall not submit to injustice from anyone; I shall conquer untruth by truth; and in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
What happens to Lt.General Thomas Cirillo is bad and unjust. This is because two wrongs never make one right. We cannot apply injustice to solve injustice hoping that we shall get justice because in such a case there is no justice.
This is why the law prevents revenge or taking the law into one’s own hands except where the law allows the taking of the law into one own hands as in the case of self-defense or in defense of the property.
In this case, the government of South Sudan should not discriminate against Thomas Cirillo in fighting against corruption. If the law of freezing accounts is to be applied then it must apply from the top to bottom not somewhere in the middle.
As referred in the above paragraph, a South Sudanese army General stated that Thomas Cirillo resigned from the army some days back. The news of his resignation dominated the media, both national and international. After that it appears to have been a forgotten issue like any other issues of defections and resignations in South Sudan.
However, today (on 21/02/2017) I got the report (see; National, News » February 21, 2017 » By Talk of Juba – See more at: http://talkofjuba.com/news/kenyan-government-freezes-general-thomas-cirillo-sister-bank-accounts-10m/#sthash.KaChEWiE.dpuf) which states that the South Sudanese government has traced its missing $10 million (Kenyan Sh1.03 billion) to accounts at Ecobank, Kenya Commercial Bank and Cooperative Bank of Kenya.
That these accounts are linked to Lt Gen Thomas Cirillo Swaka – former SPLA Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of logistics, and his kin Fueni Cirillo.
In part, the letter issued to the above banks to freeze the above accounts referred to above states that — “This office is under instructions from the Office of the President, Government of South Sudan to kindly request you to facilitate a freeze of these accounts and recover the money back to Bank of South Sudan A/C name – Military Strategic Division; A/C no – (USD) 0026921002607.”
Whereas I support such a move to freeze the accounts of those who have taken money of South Sudan and deposited it on foreign bank accounts, which has left the nation bankrupt, I don’t however support the way the freezing order is being applied in the present case. It is applied selectively, which is injustice. The rule is that if the order or law is to be applied then it must be applied equally.
Selective application of an order, or law like the way it is done in the present case amounts to injustice because it is discriminative. Hence, if the Office of the President was the one which issued the freezing order then, the President has caused injustice and forgot one essential element of justice.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, On the laws observes that “for there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked.”
Though I cannot use the term wicked against the President of South Sudan or his Office due to the respect I have for him, his order is unjust as it is used for political convenience but not the true tool of fighting corruption in the Government of South Sudan.
Freedom and justice should not be used selectively for the sole purpose to achieve political interest. On this point, Coretta Scott King observes, “freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.”
As observed by Coretta in the above paragraph, in relation to our case, the way the order has been applied is completely wrong as it is applied selectively and because of that it is unjust. It is unjust because the law should not be used as political tool to destroy the enemies but it should be used against everybody equally.
Thus, the question that comes to mind when looking at the case of Thomas Cirillo is: why Thomas Cirillo alone yet, there are some former and current generals in the army of South Sudan who have accounts with much more money than ten million dollars of which Thomas is being accused of.
Does it mean that the Office of the President has eyes for the accounts of Thomas Cirillo but doesn’t have for other generals’ accounts? Or what does it mean? But who is clean in the government of South Sudan to be the first to select Thomas Cirillo and cast the stone on him? (see; John 8: 7 New Testament in the Holy Bible).
The conclusion is that the whole project is intended to make Thomas Cirillo a scapegoat of the corrupt individuals in the government and the army.
The whole thing is done in bad faith and it is discriminative. Discrimination and marginalization are both of the same species. They are equal and interrelated. Marginalization is the long term product of discrimination as it in case of South Sudan is one of the major problems which was also identified by the SPLM during the liberation struggling against the successive Khartoum Regimes.
Marginalization in other words means exclusion from the resources. Hence, any nation without justice and full accessibility to resources will achieve peace as excluded will not accept subjugation by the majority. Therefore, the prerequisite for achieving lasting peace in South Sudan is to do justice.
Peace and justice go hand in hand as it was observed by Louis Farrakhan that, “there really can be no peace without justice. There can be no justice without truth. And there can be no truth, unless someone rises up to tell you the truth.”
The quotation above about the importance of justice in peace process by Louis Farrakhan is applicable to South Sudan. In South Sudan, peace will never be achieved unless we do justice to those who are wronged by punishing those who wronged them.
The above is the fact and it is the only way we can achieve lasting peace in South Sudan, if we are guided by principles of justice and fairness as provided for in our national anthem. No matter how much we move cross the world while holding conferences, consulting other nations in the search of peace but without justice peace will never be achieved.
It is even worse in South Sudan where justice is needed badly to see at the same time the seeds of injustice being planted as seen in the case of Thomas Cirillo. South Sudanese leaders should be reminded that the secret for peace is justice.
In summary, though stealing the money is bad but returning the money in unjust way is even worse. The law is not respected because of revenge but it is respected because it is just and justly addresses the needs for justice objectively to those who need justice.
The author is the South Sudanese Lawyer and can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2567839256