UPDF Moves To Probe Plunder of Zoka Forest

2062 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The 4th Division commander Brig. Kayanja Muhanga has instituted a probe committee that will include army officers and Amuru and Adjumani district leaders to investigate the degradation of the forest.

The Uganda People's Defence Forces--UPDF says it will conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the plunder of timber in Zoka Forest in Adjumani district.
 
Agnes Akello Ebong, the Adjumani resident district commissioner says armed military personnel have been illegally engaging in logging in the rain forests.
 
But Major Ceaser Olweny, the UPDF 4th Division spokesperson says the Division commander Brig. Kayanja Muhanga has instituted a probe committee that will include army officers and Amuru and Adjumani district leaders to interview members of the public about the degradation of the Forest.

He says the Committee that includes himself will commence work anytime soon.

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Olweny challenged the leaders to cooperate with the military in probing the environmental degradation.
 
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A group of environmentalists calling itself Friends of Zoka have also challenged Adjumani district leaders to make public names of the implicated military personnel.

In a July stakeholders' meeting convened by the chief administrative officer Adjumani, Dunstan Balab, aggrieved district leaders unanimously resolved that a comprehensive investigation be conducted into the illegal logging.
 
This after Adjumani RDC, Agnes Akello Ebong and two other district officials were implicated for lumbering in the forest. The other two officers include National Forestry Authority (NFA) supervisor Joseph Otim and the District Police Commander (DPC) Ojokuna Elayu.

Zoka Forest that covers 1,259 hectares (13 square kilometres) lies in the southern part of Adjumani, Itirikwa and Ukusijoni sub counties and much of the area is situated in East Madi Wildlife Reserve.

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.