In a tense stakeholders meeting convened by the chief administrative officer Adjumani Dunstan Balab over the allegations, aggrieved district leaders unanimously resolved that Regional Police Commander RPC North West Nile Ignatius Otong takes over investigations of claims of lumbering at Zoka forest by those implicated.
The two officers who are been jointly investigated by the office of the Regional Police Commander and the district forest office include National Forestry Authority (NFA) supervisor Joseph Otim Joseph and the District Police Commander (DPC) Ojokuna Elayu.
Zoka forest that covers 1,259 hectares (13 square kilometers) lies in the southern part of Adjumani, Itirikwa and Ukusijoni sub counties and much of the area is situated in East Madi Wild Life Reserve.
The forest according to Giyaya Charles the district natural resource officer is the only rich and biologically diverse tropical high forest found in Uganda.
In a tense stakeholders meeting convened by the chief administrative officer Adjumani, Dunstan Balab over the allegations, aggrieved district leaders unanimously resolved that Regional Police Commander (RPC) North West Nile Ignatius Otong takes over investigations of claims of lumbering at Zoka forest by those implicated.
Ocaya Eti, Adjumani district secretary for production says when they visited the forest reserve on May 30th after a tip off by locals they found police officers from the Field Force Unit commanded by police constable Jacob Akena guarding 100 pieces of timber that they claimed belonged to the RDC, DPC and the NFA forest supervisor.
Ocaya stunned members when he revealed that even locals in the area attested that the RDC and her team are the owners of the timber that was been guarded by the police officers.
John Sabuni, district secretary for health said the issue was brought to the attention of district leaders including the Members of Parliament but it was politicized and rubbished yet the RDC and her cohorts were busy carrying out illegal activity in the forest.
The district forest officer Francis Oja said no license has been issued for production in Zoka forest since posting of NFA supervisor Otim and wondered how they started involving themselves in lumbering at the forest.
However in the heated meeting RDC Akello says some unscrupulous elements in the district have targeted Otim because of frustration after he curtailed a deal worth 800 cubic meters of wood with a private firm in Kampala which they wanted to acquire from Zoka.
The district police commander was tight lipped throughout the meeting as his boss RPC Otong was in attendance.
But the RPC Otong welcomed the decision of the meeting and asked for district leaders to launch a formal complaint with the police before he takes over investigations in to the matter.
A report of a search and fact finding operation that was jointly conducted by officials from district forest office and led by NFA sector commander Moyo zone Acutu John Bosco on 12 February 2016 discovered massive illegal lumbering in Ukusijoni sub county which lies North of Zoka Forest.
A status report on Zoka forest dated July 1, 2016 that was released by the district natural resource office Giyaya Charles shows that illegal lumbering is on the increase at the forest reserve.