The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Koboko District, Emmy Mitala, has landed in hot soup after allegations emerged that he is reportedly engaged in illegal charcoal dealing, and a number of other corruption tendencies.
Concerned authorities in the district contend that although he is mandated with coordinating security in the area and implementing President Yoweri Museveni’s directive on curbing illegal dealing in charcoal, he is instead allegedly colluding with dealers to frustrate the directive.
As a result of Mitala’s alleged actions, he is thus frustrating not only President Museveni’s directive but also the efforts of the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to implement the same, causing the government financial loss through colluding with illegal charcoal dealers to evade taxes that would have been collected by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
It is because of this that Whistleblowers and concerned district authorities are seeking the intervention of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) headed by Brig. Gen. Henry Isoke, to investigate Mitala’s unethical dealings and if found culpable, then arraign him in courts of law to face charges of corruption.
Mitala’s Litany Of Sins
According to a dossier compiled by the Whistleblowers, Mitala is accused of among others, being involved in illegal charcoal trade, obstruction of justice, and abuse of office.
It should be noted that the NFA is tasked with the regulation and control of forest resources in Uganda. However, recently, there have been significant efforts to curb the illegal charcoal trade, especially from the West Nile region, which includes Yumbe and Koboko districts.
But, instead of supporting the NFA operatives in the operations to implement the Presidential Directive, the Koboko RDC has been accused of actively obstructing NFA enforcement operations by confronting personnel intercepting charcoal trucks from West Nile.
It is also alleged that on intercepting the operations, the RDC receives payments from charcoal dealers to facilitate their illegal trade. This includes manipulating paperwork to disguise the origin of charcoal, falsely indicating it originates from South Sudan when it is actually from Yumbe district in Uganda.
He has also been accused of intimidation and misuse of power, whereby he allegedly uses intimidation tactics against NFA and other enforcement officers. This includes leveraging connections with individuals such as a one Stella, who acts as a confidant and intermediary in these operations.
This individual, Stella, is said to boast about her connections with an army officer at the rank of Major only identified as Otai, who allegedly assists in the movement of the illegal charcoal dealers and their trucks.
A recent conversation involving the interception of a charcoal truck reveals the following:
Whenever trucks are intercepted, Stella appeals to the RDC for assistance in releasing intercepted trucks.
In such a situation, the RDC then exerts influence over personnel in the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) or NFA, suggesting potential pathways for escaping enforcement, before the trucks are released. This is based on the acknowledgement of Stella, the RDC and the dealers, of the lucrative nature of the charcoal trade from Yumbe, indicating the financial motivation behind their actions.
As a result of this, the actions of the RDC and his accomplices potentially violate several Ugandan laws and regulations, including:
This act governs the protection and management of forest resources in Uganda. The illegal trade and transportation of charcoal from protected areas contravene this act.
The RDC’s actions may fall under corruption, influence-peddling, conflict of interest, obstruction of justice and abuse of office, punishable under Ugandan law.
Customs and Tax Laws:
Falsification of trade documents and evasion of customs duties are violations of URA regulations because they deny the tax body millions of shillings that would have been collected on levies.
The Whistleblowers thus call upon SHACU, NFA, URA and other concerned authorities to expeditiously investigate the matter and if evidence gathered supports these allegations, then legal proceedings should be initiated against the RDC and his accomplices in accordance with Ugandan law.
The local authorities contend that this case highlights the need for stricter enforcement and possibly the revision of policies related to forestry and anti-corruption measures, in a bid to deter such practices from being perpetrated by some unscrupulous government officers.
Meanwhile, efforts by this website to secure a comment from the RDC were still futile by press time, because he couldn’t be reached through his office telephone lines.