The bizarre case against Junedin Sado’s wife

The inconsistent allegations used to arrest and charge former minister Junedin Sado’s wife, Habiba Mohammed, defy common credulity. At first, the police claimed that she was arrested leaving the Saudi embassy carrying 100,000 dollars,  along with extremist propaganda pamphlets written in Arabic. This was followed by a barrage of defamation by TPLF supporters that called for disciplinary action against the minister for living with a ‘terrorist’ wife.

In a letter to media outlets denouncing the defamation campaign, Junedin protested against the arrest of his wife without proper investigation.  He also defended his wife’s actions by explaining how she ended up with the said money and books. He wrote that the money was donated by the embassy to help finish a memorial mosque, which was his mother’s last wish before she passed. But because the money raised during her funeral was not sufficient, he asked the Saudi embassy for a grant in his capacity as a citizen, not as minister.

After detailing the circumstances that led to Mrs. Habiba’s arrest, Sado pleaded with his ‘comrades’, affirming, once more, his unwavering loyalty to ‘his government’ and assuring them  that his wife is neither ‘an extremist’ nor a supporter of the ‘extremist’ movement.

Asked to respond to Junedin’s comments in the media, police spokesman confirmed that Habiba was arrested because of her involvement in terrorist activity and lambasted the minister for claiming his wife was innocent before the court had rendered a verdict.

A month later, Junedin’s version of the story would be presented as reason for demoting him from his party’s executive committee.  The party said the disciplinary action was necessary because taking money from a foreign embassy and building a mosque while holding a party and government leadership position was seen as serious misconduct.  But the party cleared Junedin of criminal responsibility by voting against referring him  to the  prosecution.  Yet his wife , who was acting on his behalf when she brought the money from the embassy is facing terrorism charges.

What is even more bizarre is that the police has completely changed the story about why Habiba is charged.  Corroborating Junedin’s explanation, the amount of money she was supposed to have been carrying when she was arrested  has been reduced to 50,000 Ethiopian birr from the 100,000 USD that police initially alleged. In another twist, Habiba is now accused of receiving 1.5 million birr from the Saudi embassy through another co-defendant over a period of time.   Interestingly,  when the 1.5 million birr story first surfaced, the police alleged that  it  is the amount of money Habiba  “allegedly tried to steal”  from the Mejlis. But this allegation could not fly because Habiba never worked for the Mejlis and therefore  has no way of  accessing such huge sum. Even more,  to charge her in connection with Mejlis would mean to expose corruption of Mejlis leaders who have been acting on behalf of the government.  Hence , this allegation  was quickly dropped and  now the prosecution says she took  the said money from a person who used to work   for the Saudi  embassy.

The whole case against Habiba is a badly cooked up conspiracy with holes in all directions. First, many high ranking government officials were aware of the mosque story because they were present at the funeral where the mother’s will was announced by elders, and also at the inauguration ceremony of the mosque where the Saudi embassy pledged the money and Qurans. Second, both Junedin and his wife always travel in a government issued car, and are accompanied by federal security officers. Habiba was arrested while she was in a government car driven by a security personnel. Its a joke to claim that anyone under such close scrutiny would engage in anything remotely alarming to the regime, especially when in the presence of such officers, whom everyone in the government suspects are assigned not just to protect but also to spy on the officials.

The regime is trying to achieve multiple objectives by connecting Junedin’s wife to the Muslim movement. There are two targets; Junedin Sado and the Muslim movement. Junedin has been a target of attacks for quite some time that indicates that someone high within the system was trying to get rid off him. A month before Habiba’s arrest, rumor circulated alleging Junedin raped his sister-in-law, which was dismissed as baseless fabrication by the alleged  victim and her parents. Sources say that plain clothed security officials approached Habiba and attempted to blackmail her into falsely testifying against her husband, which she refused. The police never brought up formal charge.

Weeks afterwards, Junedin’s car was hit by another car that sped away, resulting in a minor injury to him. When his relatives came from Adama and Arsi upon hearing the news, they were stopped by security agents guarding his house who told the visitors that Junedin was not at home and  out of the country receiving treatment for a serious injury. The rumor, purposely spread, held that Junedin was in a life threatening situation. Then followed the arrest and dramatization of his wife. Therefore, connecting Junedin’s wife  to the Muslim protest might be another tactic aimed at getting rid of him. Attacking a family member to take down officials did not start with Junedin. In 1995, in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Hosni Mubarak,  the wife of Hassen Ali, then president of Oromia, was arrested. This also happened to be just weeks before a president of Oromia region was to be elected. In the subsequent appointment, although he got the majority vote at caffee Oromia,  Hassen lost the presidency to Kuma Demeksa, the reason being, he acted inappropriately during his wife’s arrest. Most recently Tefera Walwa’s wife was thrown to jail for confronting a police officer who was manhandling her 80 year old father while arresting him. Apparently Tefera complained about the arrest of his wife and the police misconduct. Shortly afterwards, he lost the party and cabinet post he held for a long time.

Attacking Junedin is also part of the regime’s offensive strategy against the Muslim protest. First, by publicly humiliating and then demoting  one of the  most prominent Muslim official in the country, it wants to send message to the rank and file that supporting the movement will result in such  severe punishment. Second, by implicating such high ranking official, the regime wants to give credence to its propaganda  that the protesters want to establish an Islamic state, and that their conspiracy runs up within the state institutions.  Third, by catching the lady while leaving the embassy, the regime wanted  to use her as a proof for its allegation that foreign governments are behind this movement.

The charges brought against the Muslim leaders contain extensive, albeit indirect, accusation against the Saudi embassy portraying it  as a bankroller of  Islamic extremism in Ethiopia. Sources say that  the regime’s overt identification of Saudi Arabia as the ‘external enemy’ that is behind the  Muslim movement did not go well with the Kingdom, which is  threatening to severe  ties–an action that could have significant economic impact.  Saudi Arabia is the number one import, and the forth export destination for Ethiopia, according to  the data on CIA World Factbook. But such strong trade ties might not deter Ethiopia from escalating attacks on the Saudis, says one analyst because ;

Ethiopia’s alliance system has been basing itself, since recent times, more and more on international security than international trade especially when the two happen to clash. This may sound quite timely for a government that couldn’t succeed in fulfilling the bare minimum economic hopes of its people and thus now needs another source of legitimacy to cling on to power. The Muslims turned out to be the first victims of perhaps the last round of EPRDF’s desperate search for a rationale to rule.

 Others doubt that the regime  would go to  such confrontation against a trading partner that could bring down the Ethiopian economy  if it disrupts flow of oil even briefly.  Therefore, some suspect that the Saudi rulers might have given tacit approval   to their Ethiopian  counterparts. Saudi Arabia is  already widely  portrayed by the Western    media  as financiers of terrorism, but it has had lit if any impact  negative impact on the   the relationship between the Western powers and the House of Saud. Thus  the   use of similar narrative by their friend across the Red Sea for domestic political agenda  would not bother them much, as long as their economic interests in Ethiopia are not affected. However, while the West has  hurled general accusation against Saudi’s,   Western government rarely went as far as directly implicating the Saudi embassy of financing terrorism.   By crossing that line, the Ethiopian regime is exposing its Saudi counterparts to internal pressure that would potentially force it to take tough measures for its own sake.


Click here to read the charge brought against  the 29 Muslims

15 comments for “The bizarre case against Junedin Sado’s wife

  1. Biftu Leta
    November 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    This is a wonderful analysis and well written. What i was just wondering is why the government want to get rid of Junedin? is it related to any political controversy? as long as i remember Junedin was one of the most ” favored” individuals by the TPLF..but what made the shift in Junedin’s status? the instances you sited- Tefera Waliwa for example, allegedly resisted Meles in one of the meetings- the meeting held in Hawassa…what did Jundin did? There must be some reason for the government to go hard on him in this particular time and instance. I just have to make a wild guess. Firstly, i think Junedin resisted or tend to resist the unjust on the Muslim community in Ethiopia. It can be inferred from the facts he is proably close to his religion. Secondly, i guess may be- this is really really wild he may have have shown his concern on the situation of the ” leaderless” Oromia region. But i would love to see this article being analyzed from this point of view ..the why behind the ‘ Bizarre case”. Thank you for the insight

  2. ras metat
    November 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Well this is an interesting narrative Jawar. First of all, you again accuse the TPLF for everything that goes wrong in Ethiopia. Please tell me, is Bereket Simon not a powerful figure in the EPRDF, and could therefore be the one leading this process? Or could internal feud within the OPDO not be factor for the attack on Sado? These and many other potential scenarios and causes that could explain this situation, however you chose to focus on the TPLF – as you consistently do in such situations.

    The explanation for this may be that with the passing of Meles and the diffusion of power within the EPRDF, as well as alliance making across ethnic lines (as you claim yourself), the very convenient enemy picture of the Tigrayan ethnic group which used to (almost) unite all of the opposition is disappearing! Hence, the emergence of truly powerful non-tigrayans in the EPRDF and in general the turning into a truly multi-ethnic front of the EPRDF is terrifying; and to keep the mobilization momentum you have to sustain ethnic polarization, as that is your most powerful tool.

    It is also interesting that Junedin is portrayed as a miskin victim of Abyssinian corruption (of course his past role in the regime is not relevant, as that is based on ethnic criteria). This is not a nuanced narrative, and you have to make up your mind, are you a politician or political scientist?

  3. Bortola
    November 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I am very trilled about what happened to this slave of the TPLF. I commend the tigres for that. Let them do the same to the likes of Sado, the #1 enemies of the Oromo people.

  4. Baldhina
    November 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    What sort ” comon credulity ” do you expect from those who rule over 80, 000 000 people by law of the jungle?
    The lady must have been under Allah’s protection or just lucky that she escaped assasination/killing on the spot as they are doing now i at Kamise Wollo) on the muslims over there and as they acted on Asaasa (Arsi ) muslims a while back!
    My brother , it appears you are luuled by their pretentious “Rule of the law that provided them Power!
    They are only trying to demonstrate Dr. Ken Petress’ definition of Poweer which says
    ” Power is the ability to influence others to believe, behave, or to value as those in power desire
    them to or to strengthen, validate, or confirm present beliefs,behaviors, or values.” How badly are we all influebced by waayyaanne’s propaganda of ” Revolutionary Democracy”????
    Don’t you ever forget that the true nature of the regiom in power in the Ethiopian empire – Law of the jungle that took place in Asaasa a while back and and what is going on inKamise and the surroundings in Wollo now! Please don’t be lulled again: you can never find any “common crudility” in that what the current powe holders in the Ehiopian empire do!

  5. Finfine
    November 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Jawar, your analysis does hold water at all. It contradicts itself. You are presenting Junedine was a threat and TPLF wanted to get rid of him. But Junedine is the most loyal perso to woyane to the point he involved in importing new religion.

  6. Finfine
    November 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    doesn’t hold water

  7. Marii
    November 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Jawar,baayyee gltm ibsa bilchaataa ragaa seenaa impaayeratti irratti hundaaween deggartee shira xaxamaa jiru lafa keyse

    Sirni impaayeratti nama oromoo hangamille isaaniif amanamaa tahus,akka guddatee isaaniin qixxaatu ykn isaaniin dorgomuu hinbarbaadan.Isaan oromoo kan barbaadan hanguma ifiif tohachuu dandayanitti qofa,namnii oromoo akka dhageeytiin isaan caalu hinfedhan,kanaaf kaayyoo dhukkataa kana shira biraatiin golganii maqaa biraa moggaasan

    “alllaattii nyaachuuf ja’an lukuudha ja’aniin””

  8. Abba Garo
    November 15, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Interesting analysis. Please keep it up. May Allah be with you!

  9. Sasahu
    November 16, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Some of your contentions are disconcerting; instead of showing your scientific political analysis it rather exposes your propensity for your personal interest. Now you are telling us how Junedin Sado was faithful for his religion that for his party, this is full of prattle and all Ethiopians know that.

    You seem to have some secretes about Tefera Walwa and his detention from his political party, how were you unable to provide this sensitive story by itself than using it as a bolstering evidence for Junedin’s allegation.

    Here is the truth that I believe most Ethiopians agree. These high level TPRF/EPRDF politicians are part of the countries politics only because they are loyal for their rulers than for their people and they prefer their luxury at the expense of others.

  10. Garii
    November 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Junedi deserve to be thrown out becase he has finished his service as loyalist. The end result of serving your people`s enemy is to be trashed out and put in the dust bin of history.What happened to Junedi is this and it is the same as the earlier serevants.

  11. Gudbay
    November 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Dear Jawar, it is a good analysis. However, isn’t this always has been the signature of the TPLF/EPRDF regime since the first day in office? My worries are how the regime manages to hide such traps all along when the fact that its office-life is dependent on exploiting and using the misdeeds and corrupted lives of its officials is so obvious. When I say this, I think of what happened to Tamirat Layine, Siye Abreha, Abate Kisho, Hassen Ali, Abadula and so on. May be work is needed to expose such a modus operandi and the still alive architects behind it.

  12. nebx
    December 1, 2012 at 4:49 am

    I m confident that this is a clear message for all, who may think to support public demand as you clearly say it ” ….. publicly humiliating and then demoting one of the most prominent Muslim official in the country, it wants to send message to the rank and file that supporting the movement will result in such severe punishment” or may be suspection in leading the faction in OPDO

  13. new
    February 11, 2013 at 5:11 am

    the guy deserve this he was a loyal servant for the last two decades. He doesn’t care about anyone except himself

  14. Biinii
    August 26, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Baay’ee gaariidha!

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