Two Police officers arrested over illegal loggers

By Andrew Cohen Amvesi          

ARUA. Police of Adjumani district have arrested two of their own for releasing the six suspects who were arrested last week for plundering Zoka central forest reserve.

The arrest of the cops was confirmed on Monday by Ignatius Dragudu, the acting police public relations officer (PRO) for the North West Nile region.

Some-of-the-illegal-loggers-being-paraded-during-their-arrest-in-Zoka-forest-on-May-9.

Speaking to this reporter on phone, Dragudu said the two officers whose identities couldn’t be revealed due to the ongoing investigations into the matter were arrested on Saturday and they are currently being detained at Adjumani central police station (CPS).

He said the officers were attached to Ajeri police post in Itirikwa sub-county where the six illegal loggers were briefly detained before being released under unclear circumstances.

According to Dragudu, police have also summoned Zema Okuni, the NFA supervisor for Zoka central forest reserve to come and record a statement in regard to the release of the suspects.

“When the police officers arrested those illegal loggers on May 9, 2022, they detained them at Ajeri police station and later they decided to release the suspects without forwarding the case to Adjumani CPS which is the headquarter of Adjumani police station. So, when the information reached the DPC, he decided to follow the matter faster and arrested the OC of Ajeri police post and one of his staff and brought them to Adjumani CPS and they are still in our custody for further interrogation,” Dragudu said.

Some-of-the-trees-illegally-cut-for-timber-in-Zoka-central-forest-reserve

“Two police officers were arrested and they are now in custody over that case. As per now, they are helping the government with investigations into the matter. We are interested in knowing how those suspects were released. The NFA officer who was involved in the operation that led to the arrest of the suspects has also been summoned to come and record his statement over the same case,” Dragudu added.

Dragudu promised that by Tuesday this week, the file of the officers will be ready for them to appear before the police disciplinary court.

“Being a police officer, you must act professionally. Once you arrest a person, and after compiling the case, you have to forward the file to CPS if you are in an out post such that the file of that suspect can be sent to the Resident State Attorney for advice so that you remain safe but not to release the suspect without informing your supervisors. They should stop acting unprofessionally,” Dragudu warned.

William Amanzuru, the team leader Friends of Zoka commended police for arresting their own officers and called for a forensic audit of what has been happening in Zoka forest.

“I applaud the decision of the police to arrest their own in relation to the current mess that is ongoing in Zoka forest, but I think in a nutshell, what they need to do is, can the police and NFA cause a forensic audit of what has been happening in Zoka. I think the RDC must now call for a forensic audit of environmental abuse in Adjumani because this one is not a standalone challenge,” Amanzuru said.

“This problem has been ongoing, even police themselves are victims of releasing vehicles and equipment without the notification of NFA, that is the latest we have also learnt from NFA. So, for me, this arrest is good but I’m now saying can the police and NFA call for a forensic audit of what has been happening in Zoka forest. That in my view, will address the current challenges we are going through,” Amanzuru added.

The suspects who have landed the two police officers and the NFA official in trouble were earlier identified as Michael Akena, 28, a resident of Gulu, Mukama Chemus, 32, a resident of Kamuli, Gerald Ssenguedo, 25, a resident of Kiboga, Chelstino Salasata, a resident of Apaa and two

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