- The porous border between Uganda and South Sudan has created easy access of entry and exit
- The owner of the farm claims no knowledge of the men who entered into his farm
- The South Sudan rebel is likely to face court martial in Uganda for illegal entry with guns into Uganda
- It has remained unclear how the Ugandans got into contact with the rebel who then provided them security
By Elema Robert
Yumbe. Six Ugandans have been arrested over an illegal lumbering in a farm in Yumbe district.
The six allegedly hired a rebel attached to Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition as their guard during the cutting down of trees.
They were arrested after a tip-off from some locals who cited them in the farm belonging to Hajji Gule Musa in Goboro Parish in Kochi Sub County.
The SPLA-IO rebel, Charles Duku, was found with SFG gun and 28 rounds of ammunition. In the farm, there was already a truck waiting for the logs to be loaded, but it has not been clear where they would take the logs.
Hajji Musa Gule a prominent business man in Yumbe town, said the size of the land is 5 square miles.
“I am not happy with the decision the district security committee have taken that UPDF should handle the matter and I doubted whether justice will prevail in this matter because the police have been sidelined in investigations. If this matter is not handled well, I will involve human rights or petition the president over this matter,” Gule said.
Josephine Angucia the Police spokesperson for West Nile region confirmed the arrest of the seven people and impounding of a numberless vehicle in connection to the illegal lumbering in the area by the UPDF after a tip off from the local people in the area.
“All the suspects were arrested and taken to army detach but because there was the rebel SPLA-IO who was guarding the group while cutting down the trees illegally with a gun, the army has picked interest in handling the matter because it’s involving military weapon by a rebel from the neighbouring country, so they are investigating the matter and they will be taken to the military court martial,” she said.
A UPDF officer guards some of the suspects. Photo by Elema Robert.
While, the deputy spokesperson for SPLA-IO Col Paul Lam, attributed the problem to misunderstanding on the issue of borders because people don’t know where exactly the border line ends.
“We are investigating how our SPLA-IO got involved in that dubious act. Crossing to Uganda with guns is against the law of Uganda and it also applies to South Sudan and we are going to punish the suspect for that because we are not supposed to do lumbering but to defend our territory from illegal harvesting of such resources meant for the civilians,” he said.
Yassin Taban the district chairperson said the district council recently banned the cutting of Afizilia Africana species and shearnut trees in the district but the people are taking the advantage of insecurity in South Sudan border to cause confusion which is bad and uncalled for.
“We don’t want the Ugandans to connive with the South Sudanese to exploit our resources. The laws of forestry are very clear and it is the district that takes care of the community forests. We need thorough investigations into this matter because we are not understanding the issue because a certain Ugandan company with unclear identities is behind this deal,” he said.
Manassi Wadia the Resident district commissioner said: “We are yet to know how the suspects who entered the farm because there are no other access roads apart from those where we have UPDF detaches that connects to South Sudan border,” he said.