Former regional governor faces terrorism charge


He has a Norwegian citizenship

Former Gambella regional government President Okelo Akuayi Ipola, who is known by the nickname Monorim Kawanam, was charged with terrorism at the Federal Supreme Court 19th Criminal Bench on Wednesday.

The 52-year-old former governor was charged along with several South Sudanese nationals: David Ojulu Ubang (Ujuwe Ujusu Ubang,) Uchan Opiyo Umud, Uman Gnikew Ujulu, Ujulu Chamo Ukayit, Ataka Uwar Ugala and Ubang Umud Abola. The suspects are said to be the chairmen of the terrorist group, head of the South Sudan wing and intelligence head of the South Sudan wing, according to the statement of the charges.

The suspects were found to be plotting to take over the Gambella Regional State in an attempt to establish an autonomous state for the Gambella people forming a couple of political fronts such as the Gambella People’s Liberation Movement (GPLM), and the Gambella Democratic Movement (GDM), the charge read. According to the charge, they had mobilized ethnic Gambellas in the United States, Australia, Canada, and other European countries for fundraising and military services.

According to the federal prosecutor, the suspects had been in several meetings with the Eritrean government and some of the opposition groups that have previously been labeled as terrorists’ organizations by the Ethiopian government on ways of plotting terror acts. Moreover, they were also said to have been in close connection with David Yawuyaw and Joseph Lolimoya, who lead the South Sudanese rebels, the charge stated.

Okelo, who administered the Gambella regional government in 2005, fled the country with his guard and driver via the border of South Sudan to finally arrive in Norway. The charge states that he was behind all the conflicts and that violence took place in the region. Being in exile in Norway, Okelo had also given provoking interviews to various international medias including Eritrean television. Raising funds of USD 50 per month from the Diaspora Gambellas, to establish a potential terrorist organization in the Horn of Africa, Okelo was found to be a mastermind of a series of attacks that have taken place in the region.

All suspects surrendered after South Sudan’s security forces captured them in an attempt to attack in the Dima and Yejer districts where gold miners work. The federal prosecutor defended the fact that they should be deprived of defense so that their case is adjourned to July 1, 2014.