Councilors Vote for Removal of Fisheries Officers Over Extortion

2275 Views Nakasongola, Uganda

In short
The 20 district councilors unanimously passed a resolution asking Ruth Nankabirwa, the state minister for fisheries to sack the seven enforcement fisheries officers for

Nakasongola district council has passed a vote of no confidence against seven fisheries enforcement officers accused of extortion and brutalizing fishermen. The implicated officers are Denis Bataringaya, the team leader, Yusuf Kakembo, Isaac Kalunda, Dan Ssemyalo and two others only identified as Odoi and Meddie. The motion to move a vote of no confidence against the seven fisheries enforcement officers follows the mounting tensions in the district over the shooting of Apio Muteeso, a fisherman at Kikooge-Moone landing site.

Muteeso was shot dead last week during a joint operation conducted by Police and Fisheries Enforcement Officers on Lake Kyoga to crack down on illegal fishing.  As a result of the shooting, the fishermen threatened to avenge the death of their colleague. On Friday, Nakasongola district council convened to chat away forward. The 20 district councilors unanimously passed a resolution asking Ruth Nankabirwa, the state minister for fisheries to sack the seven enforcement fisheries officers for alleged extortion, reselling impounded fishing gears and brutalizing fishermen.

The motion to expel the officers was tabled by Samuel Tingira, the councilor Lwampanga Sub County and was seconded by Frederick Bandumba, the Nakasongola LC V vice chairperson. While moving the motion Tingira claimed that they had registered at least eleven cases over the last one month, where the officials impounded immature fish and nets but resold it to other fishermen. He also claimed the officials extort between 100,000-300,000 shillings from the fishermen.

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Frederick Bandumba, the Nakasongola LC V vice chairperson asked the other councilors to support the motion saying their pleas to the relevant offices to act on the errant officers had been ignored.

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David Masereka, the Nakasongola Resident District Commissioner and District Police Commander Dick Ayesigomwe tried to block the councilors to block the resolution in vain. Ayesigomwe asked the councilors to stay the motion to allow police to investigate the complaints against the officials, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
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Nelson Muruli, the representative of Lwabyata Sub county asked council to trash DPC and RDC proposal because of their failure to take action against the implicated officers. Muruli alleged that some police officers connive with the fisheries officers to extort money and torture the fishermen. The deceased fisherman was shot dead by Richard Ongom, the officer in charge of Kikooge Police post. He explains another fisherman Emmanuel Komakech drowned last year while trying to evade the wrath of the law enforcement officers.

Charles Bogere, the Nakasongola District council speaker put the motion to vote and it was unanimously supported by all the 20 councilors. Bogere tasked James Wandira, the LC 5 chairperson and Chief Administrative Officer Sulaiman Kasozi to ensure the resolution reaches Ruth Nankabirwa next week. Denis Bataringaya, the team leader of the fisheries enforcement officers declined to comment on the resolution and asked out reporter to give him more time. The fishermen have welcomed the resolution saying it is a big relief. Elvis Mwebe, a fishmonger at Ttumba landing site says the activities of the enforcement officers had weighed down their responsibilities and thrown people into abject poverty.
 

 

About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.