The National Forestry Authority (NFA) officials in Masindi district are holding four people on allegations of illegal timbering in Budongo forest, and others are on the run.
The suspects, identified as Boosa James, aged 47, Ofonda Charles, 31, Okora Joseph, 52, and Onenchan Asiira, 50, all residents of Kapeeka 3 Cell in Kabango Town Council, were arrested this evening in the forest, and items such as pangas and two handsaws were confiscated.
According to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Francis Olugu, who was the commandant of the operation, the four suspects will be transferred to NFA headquarters in Bugoloobi, and they will be charged with illegal camping in the forest, slashing the forest, and other crimes.
Olugu disclosed that they have also destroyed seven camps, each having two people who were cutting down trees in the forest, adding that they already have details of those who escaped and that they will pursue them until they are arrested and charged.
The NFA Range Manager in Charge of Budongo Range System, Boaz Besigirenda Abwooli, notes that they were tipped off by the forest users, and with the help of security, they were able to arrest the suspects.
Besigirenda said that the suspects are only targeting mahogany trees, and they fell six of them, which he says is degrading the forest noting that the suspects confessed to have been hired by the dealers and timber businesspeople in Masindi and Hoima.
On the same note, he warned other people against illegal timbering, noting that the operation will continue to ensure that the forest is conserved for the next generation.
The Budongo Forest Range Manager says that the case has been registered under GEF 14/2023 and will be investigated at the NFA headquarters in Bugoloobi.
By the time we filed this story, the suspects were being transferred to the NFA headquarters in Bugoloobi.