Stephen Muneza, RedPepper
March 3, 2014
Police has issued two arrest warrants for two businessmen connected to the 832 pieces of ivory that were impounded by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in October last year.
The arrest warrants have been issued against a Kenyan national Owino Odhiambo, who owns Silver Shipping Limited, a Kenyan registered company that was destined to receive the ivory and also export it to China.
The second arrest warrant is for a Congolese national Kayumba Emile Ogane. Ogane claimed the impounded ivory while it was with the URA. Ogane is the director of Ogane Company Limited which instituted the proceedings in the High Court at Nakawa. Ogane has however never appeared in person in Uganda.
The two arrest warrants have been forwarded to Interpol to arrest and bring the persons for prosecution.
They are wanted for the concealment of ivory that was smuggled through the DRC-Uganda border post of Bunagana. It is alleged that the Ivory was not declared to the customs officials at the border post. The 2.9 tonnes of ivory were being transported in a Congolese trailer registration number CGO 6816 AB19.
Congolese businessman Emile Ogano hired David Ochaya to be his transport agent. Ochaya then used Ocean Freight East Africa Limited containers and delivered the ivory undocumented to the inland container depot at Bweyogerere. While arguing the case before the Nakawa High Court, the lawyers of Emile Ogane said that their client had concealed the goods to hide them from the naked eye of the robbers, an argument that the court judge Masalu Musene accepted.
Last month, the judge ordered URA to return the impounded ivory to Ogane.
Interpol Director Arsan Kasingye said Interpol would embark on the search of the suspects to deliver them to the arms of Justice.
The environmental crime desk of Interpol in Lyon, France has since expressed concern at the fate of the ivory.
To import and export ivory, one has to get a licence from the home country and also a permit to trade in ivory from CITES or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
In October last year, URA impounded a container of 822 pieces of ivory; approximately 2.9 tonnes. The ivory was destined to go to Owino Odhiambo, a Kenyan national. After it was impounded, a Congolese national, Kayumba Emile Ogane claimed the ivory from the URA and instituted a suit for its release. In a landmark ruling, the high court Judge Masalu Musene ordered for its release, a judgement that has been widely contested by both the Uganda Wildlife Authority and URA.
URA has lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal.