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Agago Cultural Chief Remanded for Destroying Endangered Shea Tree Species

The suspects identified as Rwot Jimmy Olula and his accomplices who include, his Prime Minister Nekanori Oboke, Bosco Ayella Adeng all residents of in Layada village, Ogole parish and Geoffrey Besweri a resident of Bugiri district were all remanded before the Patongo Magistrates Court on Thursday.

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The cultural chief of the Kal-Agum Chiefdom in Wol Sub County in Agago district has been remanded for allegedly engaging in illegal cutting down of the endangered Shea nut tree species.

Rwot Jimmy Olula was identified as one of the suspects together with his accomplices, his Prime Minister Nekanori Oboke, Bosco Ayella Adeng, all residents of in Layada village, Ogole parish and Geoffrey Besweri, a resident of Bugiri district.

On Thursday the Patongo Grade One magistrate Nicholas Aisu remanded the suspects to Patongo Central Prison until July 13th when the matter will again appear before court for further hearing and subsequent conviction.

The Wol Sub County Councilor V Richard Stanley Odong says the arrest was effected on Monday following a tip from residents who reported to the authorities that unknown persons had cut down over 40 shea nut trees for charcoal burning in the areas of Layada village.

Odong says they apprehended Besweri who later implicated Ayella and Nekanori who claimed to be landlords who hired out part of land hosting the endangered tree species under the advice and the authority of the area cultural chief Rwot Jimmy Olula.

According to Odong, the arrest of the cultural chief’s accomplices prompted the cultural chief to go into hiding but they managed to get him on Wednesday in the neighboring Kuywee Sub County before he was transferred for custody in Patongo Central Police Station.  

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Odong condemned the act of the chief on colluding with illegal loggers by giving them authority to cut the endangered tree species which is in contravention of the district ordinance on environmental degradation and the Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2013.

Alex Oyet, the Coordinator for the Acholi Cultural Institution for East Acholi Sub Region says the council of the institution had also passed a resolution against degradation of the Shea nut tree which has been recognized as an endangered tree species from extinction.

Oyet, says the chief’s conduct was uncalled for since he was instead supposed to enforce the cultural institution council’s resolution against environmental degradation other than encouraging and engaging in such illegal tendencies.  

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Churchill Olal, the Agago District Forest Officer, commended the local populace for ensuring that culprits cutting endangered tree species in the district are apprehended and produced before courts of law saying this will act as a deterrent to other culprits engaging in illegal logging. Olal says the incident comes at a time when the rate of destruction of the environment is rampant in the district despite an ordinance passed by the district against environmental degradation.

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The shea nut tree is cherished by the people of the Acholi land due to a variety of benefits that range from being a source of food and income, besides other cultural and medicinal benefits.