KAMPALA: Police with help of the Natural Resources Conservation Network carried out an operation in Pakwach district and arrested Opunya Edwin. He was arrested while in possession of four pieces of Ivory worth 60 million shillings.
The 26 year old, an Acholi by tribe, was arrested with 150kgs of Ivory. He has currently been transferred to Central Police station Kampala for further interrogations and arraignment at the wildlife court Buganda Road.
Opunya Edwin a farm manager at Gen. Otema Awany also happens to be his nephew admits that he owns the ivory and had stored it at the farm without Gen. Otema’s notice.
According to him, he got the ivory from Nwoya district and transferred it to Pakwach as he looked for market. He intended to sell at 300,000 Uganda Shillings per kilogram.
Opunya who is allegedly a perpetual wildlife trafficker said that he has had this ivory for a period of four months now and it’s not the first time to deal in ivory. He claims to have been in the business for one year now.
Opunya confessed he is aware it’s illegal to trade wildlife products. According to him, Gen. Otema is not aware of his dealings in ivory and his involvement in the wildlife trade.
Opunya a professional veterinary officer said that his exposure to animals broadened his knowledge of ivory and that’s when he started looking for it.
According to the Natural Resource Conservation Network Legal Advisor Winnie Namayenje, the aggravating factor is; – Concealing the contraband in polythene sacks.
He has been charged with unlawful possession of a protected species contrary to Sections 30 and 75 (b) of the Uganda Wildlife Act CAP 200 which provides for the offence of unlawful possession of protected species and the punishment is a fine of not less than sh 1 million or not more than five years imprisonment and in any case the fine must be not less than the value of the wildlife product involved.