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Ten Held in Crackdown On Wetland Encroachers in Lira

Simon Peter Okoshi, the Deputy Commandant of the Environmental Police Protection Unit, says the operations were prompted by numerous complaints on the rapid destruction of the ecosystem in the country.
Benjamin Okii being arrested at his compound during the operation

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Ten people in Lira district are in trouble for wetland degradation. They were picked up on Friday in an operation led by the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA to crack down wetland encroachers.

 

The suspects include Benjamin Okii, the Chief of Okii-bura Clan. The suspects were found cultivating in wetlands in Kakoge, Ojwina, Ober-Entebe, Angweta-angwet and Adekokwok areas. Okii attempted to resist arrest and assaulted a team of Police officers attached to the Environmental Police Protection Unit led by their commander, Exvius Sekanabo forcing them to grab him and drag him to Lira Central Police Station.

 

 

The chief has cultivated more than 20 acres of the wetland. In 2012, Okii was arrested and arraigned before the Lira Magistrate's court for wetland encroachment. Simon Peter Okoshi, the Deputy Commandant of the Environmental Police Protection Unit, says the operations were prompted by numerous complaints on the rapid destruction of the ecosystem in the country.

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He condemned a few wealthy people who are behind wetland encroachment.

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In an earlier interview, Francis Ogwal, the Natural Resources Manager in Charge of Biodiversity and Range Lands, National Environment Management Authority-NEMA, said Uganda's forest cover has drastically reduced from 4.9 million hectares in the early 1990's to 1.5 million hectares now.

 

He also said the wetland coverage has also reduced from about 37, 000 square kilometers to about 10, 000 square kilometers. Ogwal blamed the destruction to agricultural activities and human settlement especially in parts of Northern Uganda.

 

He is however optimistic that there is a possibility of rejuvenating the ecosystem if government intensifies the crackdown on encroachers.

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