Police in Kenya are holding a Ugandan primary school teacher for allegedly smuggling 42 kilogrammes of ivory worth KShs4.2m (more than Shs150m) and 38 kilogrammes of wildlife bones into the neighbouring East African country.
Mr Joseph Ndeda, a 45-year-old resident of Buyemba Village, Busitema Sub-county in Busia District, on Friday reportedly sneaked the ivory through Marachi Village on the Ugandan side into Kenya, before being arrested and held at Busia, Kenya Police Station.
Mr John Nyoike, the Busia-Kenya County police commander, confirmed the incident and said they are awaiting the processing of relevant documents before he is arraigned in court.
“We have intercepted and impounded 42 kilogrammes of ivory that was being smuggled on a boda boda from Uganda into Kenya and we managed to arrest the smuggler,” Mr Nyoike told the media.
Daily Monitor has established that officials from Kenya Wildlife Services, acting on a tip-off, pretended to be buyers of the ivory. The teacher is yet to reveal the source of the ivory.
The operation was carried out by officials from the directorate of criminal investigations and the Kenya Wildlife Authority at the Busia border.
Mr Nyoike said when the ivory was intercepted, it had been cut into small pieces and concealed in a sack to give an impression that it was dry cassava.
The suspect’s arrest and the impounding of the ivory underlines the challenges faced by security forces in the two East African countries in combating illicit trade across the porous borders.
The ivory is reported to have been smuggled from Congo through Uganda into Kenya, and was destined to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Mr Fred Kizza, the chief warden at Mount Elgon conservation, said.
“I received information about the interception of ivory and arrest of the suspect. The arrest is as a result of the coordinated activities by multi-security agencies in combating trade in wildlife and wildlife products,” he said.
He added: “We have a big coordination syndicate involving all security agencies and international agreements with EAC member states to combat these crimes.”
Mr Kizza added that the coordination was making it hard for people involved in illicit trade to carry on with the business.
Mr Nyoike said the smuggler is set to appear in court as soon as investigations are complete.