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Activists Decry Syndicated Exploitation of Valuable Tree Species

Benson Ongom, another member says two Gulu District officials and army officers were implicated last year for their alleged involvement in the illegal tree trade but nothing was done.
Environmental activists have decried the syndicated illegal exploitation of valuable tree species in Northern Uganda. 

It comes follows the increasing harvesting of the indigenous Afzelia Africana tree species in Gulu, Amuru, Lamwo, Kigtum and parts of Omoro districts by unknown persons.   

The activists say trucks loaded with Afzelia Africana logs and charcoal bags leave the districts daily en-route to Central Uganda.    

Arthur Owor, a founding board member of Our Trees We Need Answers, a pressure group, says the syndicated illegal exploitation of the trees involves powerful army and police officers as well as district leaders. 

He notes that this has made the fight to protect the environment difficult since such officers think that they are immune to the law.

Benson Ongom, another member says two Gulu District officials and army officers were implicated last year for their alleged involvement in the illegal tree trade but nothing was done.    

Amuru District LC V Chairperson, Michael blames sub county chairpersons and councilors for accepting money from those involved in tree cutting and moving charcoal.   

Lakony says the fighting against the illegal tree cutting has been politicized, adding that he is currently battling a case of aggravated robbery stemming from his attempts to stop the illegal charcoal business in the district.   

The Pabbo Sub County LC V Councilor, Richard Abola P`Lacaka also reveals that he is battling up to five charges slapped on him by police for impounding  charcoal trucks last year. 

   

Patrick Jimmy Okema, the Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson, similarly accuses politicians of interfering with police efforts to protect the environment. 

Col. John Mugarwa, the 4th Division Operation and Training Officer-DOTO, says the army as an institution shouldn’t be attacked because of the flaws of individual officers.

  Tonny Kitara, a lead advocate at Barenza and Co. Advocates advises the activists to name and shame the officers so that they can be restrained from their actions.    

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