Gen Otema’s farm manager arrested with 150kgs of ivory

Tuesday November 28 2017

The suspect paraded with the impounded 150Kgs

The suspect paraded with the impounded 150Kgs of ivory. Photo By Julius Ocungi 

By JULIUS OCUNGI

Police with help of the Natural Resources Conservation Network have arrested a veterinary officer in possession of 150 kgs of ivory worth Shs60 million in the black market.
The suspect identified as Edwin Opunya, 26, was reportedly arrested in Pakwach District with 14 pieces of the ivory which he allegedly intended to sell at Shs300,000 per kilogramme.

Mr Joshua Poro, the NRCN Public relations officer in a press statement said the suspect is a farm manager at one of the farms in Nwoya District belonging to the Commander of Reserve Forces Maj Gen Charles Otema Awany.
He noted that while appearing before the police in Packwach District where he was briefly detained, the suspect admitted that he owns the ivory adding that he had stored it at the farm of Gen Otema minus his notice.
Mr Poro further notes that the suspect said he had kept the ivory for a period of four months and confessed it wasn’t his first time dealing in ivory.

He said the suspect has been transferred to Kampala for further interrogations and arraignment in court.
NRCN Legal Advisor, Ms Winnie Namayenje, said the suspect will be charged with unlawful possession of a protected species contrary to Sections 30 and 75 (b) of the Uganda Wildlife Act CAP 200.
Efforts to get a comment from Gen Otema were futile as he didn’t pick our repeated phone calls.
The Wildlife Act provides for the offence of unlawful possession of protected species and the punishment is a fine of not less than Shs1 million or not more than 5 years imprisonment.

Last week, the police in Maracha District arrested two a Congolese and Ugandan national over illegal trafficking of ivory estimated at Shs17.2 million.

Since the year begun, NRCN in conjunction with the police have been able to impound 1.9 tons of ivory in various parts of the country.
The ivory was impounded in areas close to game parks in North Eastern and Northern Uganda, West Nile region and Western Uganda.
Uganda remains a key transit country for illegal ivory trade and the trade is estimated to be worth $600 million annually.

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