Local Chief Implicated in Illegal logging
A cultural chief in Adjumani district has been implicated in the illegal logging deal of protected tree species.
Chief Onaka Van Chope of the Palaro clan’s name came up following night operations conducted by enforcement officials from the forestry department.
While briefing journalists in her office on Sunday, the Adjumani district secretary for Natural resources Ms Josephine Ato said there is overwhelming evidence linking the self-styled Palaro Clan Chief to the resources he is supposed to protect.
Chief Oneka, however, denied the allegations insisting that he has instead been protecting the trees by deploying Palaro vigilantes in the wilderness as a security measure to protect the endangered tree species.
The Adjumani district council according to Ato, has banned logging and the resolution is backed by a circular from the Minister of Water and Environment outlawing cutting and the transportation of the endangered Afzelia Africana species.
The chief instead said those accusing him are supporters of his rival to the throne of Palaro chiefdom and those backing a prominent logger.
The crane that was loading the logs has been impounded and towed to the district headquarters and the number plate of the heavy-duty truck has also been removed.
The sub-county chairman Pakele Mr Welbourne Kenyi also incriminated Chief Oneka saying the vigilante youths were being deployed under the guise of protecting trees when actually they are involved in the illegal logging business.
The head of Madi cultural institution Chief Stephen Drani, however, backed the Palaro clan chief Oneka over his alleged involvement in illegal logging describing the allegation as unfounded and groundless.
Chief Drani said the accusation labelled against the troubled Palaro chief Oneka is malicious, unsubstantiated and speculative and should, therefore, be disregarded.
He said chief Oneka has instead deployed his guards in the wilderness of Melijo to protect the endangered Afzelia Africana tree species.
The coordinator of Friends of Zoka, Mr William Amanzuru called upon the young generation to take over the fight against environmental degradation because they will be the ones to carry the burden in the future.