“Twinomugabe is one of the habitual timber dealers from Bugoma Central Forest Reserve,” says NFA's Steven Bagonza.
PIC: A handcuffed Abel Twinomugabe (right) and NFA's Steven Bagonza (centre) after the latter was arrested. (Credit: Gerald Tenywa)
KAMPALA - Like the proverbial cat, Abel Twinomugabe seems to have nine lives. He served as the district forestry officer at Kyegegwa for more than a decade, but recently, he was caught with a truckload of illegal timber.
Twinomugabe was handcuffed as he walked to the timber yard at Bugolobi, where he was paraded as an illegal timber dealer.
He was escorted by policemen from the Environment Protection Force and the law enforcement team at Nakawa, which houses the headquarters of the National Forestry Authority (NFA).
“Twinomugabe is one of the habitual timber dealers from Bugoma Central Forest Reserve,” said Steven Bagonza, the law enforcement co-ordinator at NFA.
“I got information that timber had been cut in Bugoma forest and we incepted the truck at Kalerwe in Kampala over the weekend,” he said.
Bagonza added: “The timber was illegally cut using a power chainsaw and there were documents authorising the movement of timber or receipt from the district and no licence given by NFA.
"We have arrested Twinomugabe, and Police is working with us to carry out further investigations and we are going to charge him under the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act.”
He said Twinomugabe had been intercepted several times with illegal timber, but has not changed despite the warnings. “I have got him not once, not twice, but several times."
Bagonza said the law breaker did not respect the law enforcement team despite the fact that he knows the forestry law.
Power chainsaw confession
Meanwhile, Twinomugabe conceded he dealt in illegal timber on grounds that it was cut using a power chainsaw. He also defended himself, saying the trees left on private land were scattered and that it is not easy to use a handsaw to convert them into timber.
“I am operating on private land belonging to Margaret Kyekya at Nsozi in Kyangwali sub-county,” he said, adding that the only crime he committed was cutting down trees using a chainsaw.
“I have been in the timber business for some time and 90% of the timber is harvested using power chainsaw,” he said.
Twinomugabe said the land where he is cutting trees belongs to Kyekya. New Vision tried, but failed, to reach to her for comment. Twinomugabe said she lives in the US.
Asked to produce the timber movement permit and receipts, Twinomugabe said the driver of the TATA truck that was ferrying the timber got scared and took off. He said he was the one with the documents.
Bob Kazungu, a senior forestry officer at the forestry sector support department, described Twinomugabe as a serial dealer in illegal timber.
“We warned him, and for a former district forestry officer, it is shameful to engage in illegal activities,” said Kazungu.