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Police, RDC trade blame over illegal logging in Lamwo

News | The Northern Link UG | The Environmental Protection Police Unit (EPPU) and Lamwo Resident District Commissioner, Geoffrey Osborn Oceng are trading accusations over illegal logging in the district. It follows the altercation last week between the EPPU and security personnel led by Oceng during an operation in Agula village, Abera sub-county in Lamwo district.

A team of EEPU officers and National Forestry officers led by the Aswa River Regional Environmental Protection Police Unit Officer, Rose Magomba reportedly stormed Abera sub-county to intercept illegal loggers leading to disagreements.

The team was however blocked by Oceng accompanied by district authorities, police officers, and the army on grounds that the EPPU was conniving with individuals who were transporting the endangered Afzelia Africana tree species.

The Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson David Ongom Mudong told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Wednesday that the action of the RDC sabotaged the lawful duties of EPPU officers mandated to fight illegal deals in forest products.

Mudong notes that the team was not working in isolation, arguing that the relevant authorities including Lamwo police, village, and sub-county chairpersons were notified of their presence.

A written report compiled by the Regional Environmental Protection Police Unit Officer Rose Magomba accuses the RDC along with senior police officers from Lamwo district of obstructing their lawful duties last week.

She also alleges that humiliating and demotivating words were used against her and the team of police officers she moved with during the time of the altercation. But Oceng counter accuses the EPPU team led by Magomba of siding with illegal loggers and charcoal dealers not only in Lamwo but also in other areas of the Acholi sub-region.

Oceng says last week, they responded to the scene after getting information that the team had been paid to escort a truck full of Afzelia Africana trees through Lamwo to Gulu district. He noted that the EPPU team hadn’t notified security personnel in the district of their operation.

Lamwo District Police Commander, Robert Kachumu told URN on Wednesday that five suspects found loading the illegal logs were arrested last week following the intervention of security personnel. Kachumu says the suspects who he declined to name will be arraigned at the Magistrates court in Kitgum.

He notes that exhibits of logs and trucks impounded from the suspects have been detained at Lamwo Central Police station. Illegal trade in forest products in the region has been on the rise and local leaders blame corrupt security personnel for abetting the vice.

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