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JUBA - 12 Jul 2019

Police officer arrested for allegedly threatening Ethiopian diplomats

A police officer was arrested for allegedly threatening Ethiopian diplomats at their residence in Juba on Tuesday and Wednesday, an official said.

Michael Chiangjiek, South Sudan’s Minister of Interior, told Radio Tamazuj on Thursday that Second Lieutenant Jackson Lodiong Chaplain was apprehended after he stormed the residence of Ethiopia embassy at Thongpiny neighborhood after a rent conflict.

“The police officer is the landlord but he leased out his land to a second party and the issue of rent is still in dispute. The issue was being handled by the court,” he said.

“The landlord was not happy with the rent, so he told the Ethiopian diplomats that if don’t pay me well, then you have to move out of the place. Also, he was told that there was a contract signed and the dispute is being handled by the court,” he added.

The minister pointed out that the police officer was arrested because he took the law into his own hands. “The arrest is an administrative issue but the parties will definitely go back to the court,” he said.

Arop Malueth, lawyer of the Wisdom Group Company which signed the lease agreement with Jackson Lodiong, confirmed the arrest.

 He noted that Mr Lodiong had leased out his land to Wisdom Group Company for 12 years and that the company for its part rented out the residence to the Ethiopian embassy.

Malueth acknowledged that there was a dispute over rent between the company and Jackson Lodiong, pointing out that the landlord wanted to make some changes in the lease contract to increase the rent.

“The company told Lodiong that it is not possible to change the agreement unless you add more years so that we give you more money. After the two parties reached a deadlock, Lodiong went to the court and the case is before the court,” he said.

“But this week, Lodiong went to the residence of the embassy with a gun and locked the diplomats inside the house. He asked those people to vacate the house but the issue was reported to the ministry of foreign affairs and the police,” he added.

The lawyer noted that the court case has dragged on for a long period of time.

For his part, Jackson Lodiong confirmed from inside the jail cell that he leased out his land to Wisdom Group Company. “We agreed at a rate of 4,000 SSP per month for one plot and I gave them two plots. The lease agreement was signed in March 2012,” he said.

“According to the lease agreement, the company was to build a big building. Also, we agreed on an increase of 10% every year, but those people did not build big buildings as agreed,” he added.

The landlord accused the company of failing to pay rent. “They did not pay rent from 2012 to 2014,” he said.

Lodiong further said he had filed a lawsuit against the company in December 2017 and that the court issued its final ruling.

“The court said the building should be handed over to me, but the order was not respected,” he said.

The police officer denied accusations that he threatened the Ethiopian embassy staff with a gun. “I didn’t threaten them but I told them that the house is mine and I need it. What I did is that I locked the main gate because the house was supposed to be closed in accordance with the court order, “he added.

“My right is my right and I have to defend my property. My government has now put me in jail because I am demanding my right”.

Embassy officials could not immediately be reached for comment.