Police in Adjumani District say they are investigating theft charges against Adjumani East MP, Mr James Mamawi, after he allegedly waylaid a truck along Mungula road in Adjumani town and forcefully took away 60 bags of charcoal.
The district police commander, Mr Benon Byamukama, told this publication on Sunday that a case of theft (SDR: 39/10/03/2022) was registered against the legislator by two charcoal dealers from Mbale District, adding that investigations into the case were underway.
This publication learnt that the MP was dragged to police by one Mr Ali Mundara and his wife, Ms Jessica Nabwire, both charcoal dealers from the eastern Uganda district of Mbale.
The couple told police that their truck was on March 10, 2022 stopped at a roadblock staged by the legislator as they approached Adjumani Town at around 4am before the MP confiscated the car keys from the driver.
“Even when we showed him our valid license issued by the district’s forest department, the MP who was in the company of two others, went ahead and opened the back of the truck and started pulling out the bags of charcoal, accusing us of illegal trade,” Mr Ali said.
“He (MP) then made an alarm that attracted several locals and instructed them to carry the charcoal bags away. By the time police arrived at the scene, 60 out of 250 bags of charcoal had been looted,” Mr Mundara added.
On March 13, Mr Mamawi was summoned by the police over the allegations. He was, however, not detained and details about his meeting with police were not divulged to journalists.
When contacted, the MP denied stealing any bags of charcoal from the complainants. He, however, blamed the couple for failing to produce a permit and a license from the district authorising them to produce or deal in charcoal.
“They refused to comply when I politely asked them to produce their trading license. They instead ordered their accomplices to manhandle us and in the ensuing fracas, two boys were badly injured. That is when the community came in and others raided the bags of charcoal,” Mr Mamawi told this reporter.
He said it’s his role as a leader in the area to monitor the illicit charcoal trade.
The commercial charcoal business was banned by the Adjumani District council in 2016, following massive illegal charcoal trade and the resultant mass deforestation of the area.
However, the law enforcement unit of the district now appears to be struggling to enforce the ban given to the increasing trend of the illegal trade in charcoal and timber.