26 May 2018

Uganda: Five Jailed for Cutting Endangered Forest Products

Kampala — Five people have been jailed two and half years for felling and trading in endangered forest products in Amuru district.

The five include Fred Bule, a resident of Mitooma district, Denish Anok Ocen, a resident of Amuru district and Eddie Nsubuga, a resident of Makindye in Kampala. Others are Morris Otim a resident of Gulu Municipality and Jerry Madera from Mukono district.

Each of the five was charged with two counts of illegally felling and transporting forest products.

Amuru district Grade One Magistrate, Joseph Angole found the five guilty of illegally felling Afzelia Africana species locally known in Luo as Beyo and Shea Nut trees from Amuru district.

Angole ruled that the five violated section 31 of the National Forestry and tree planting Act 2003 which provides for proper licensing of trade in any forest products. He sentenced each of them to two and half years jail terms which they will serve in Amuru central prison, Kaladima.

Last year, Parliament declared Afzelia Africana, an endangered forest product requiring protection and effectively banned trade in it. However, Acholi sub region continues to fight illegal logging of the highly valuable tree species which only thrives in northern Uganda.

Aswa River region Police Spokesperson, Patrick Jimmy Okema, says convicting the five should serve as a lesson to other traders illegally cutting trees in the region.

According to evidence produced in court, Police intercepted the five suspects from Akuru-kwer trading Center in Amuru district attempting to evade Amuru district check points. Their vehicles were impounded alongside their bags of charcoal and logs.

Last week, illegal loggers attempted to overrun the vehicle of Michael Lakony, the Amuru district chairperson as he intercepted them along Gulu Nimule highway. Lakony sustained injuries in the process.

Logs of Afzelia Africana are highly demanded in Asian markets for its valuable strength.

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