CES; Kajo-Keji Commissioner Faces Impeachment

Hon. James Modi Lomindi, the Chairperson Parliamentary Committee of Information, Culture, Youth and Sport at the Central Equatoria State Transitional Legislative Assembly (File/Photo: Philip Buda Ladu)

By Philip Buda Ladu

The Commissioner of Kajo-Keji County, Kenyi Erasto Michael is under pressure of having to either submit to the Central Equatoria State Transitional Legislative Assembly to answer questions raised to him by parliamentarians about the illicit logging in his county or face impeachment.

Commissioner Erasto was summoned about three weeks ago to appear before legislators in the State assembly alongside two ministers for Agriculture, Environment and Forestry and the Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies.

However, the two ministers appeared in the floor of parliament on Wednesday 12th April 2022 and answered the queries directed to them by the August House except the Commissioner of Kajo-Keji who boycotted the sitting for unclear reasons communicated to the assembly’s administration.

The lawmakers resolved for the appearance of the two ministers and Commissioner of Kajo-Keji County to provide answers to the house on the serious concerns raised about the persistent illegal logging in the County despite issuance of executive order banning the activity.

James Modi Lomindi, the Chairperson of the Specialized Committee for Information, Culture, Youth and Sports at the State Legislative Assembly told No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper on Tuesday that there is going to be a sitting on Wednesday and that they have demanded the Commissioner of Kajo-Keji County to appear before the August House together with three ministers.

“There is going to be a sitting and we have demanded the Commissioner to be in the house tomorrow plus the Minister of Finance, Planning and Investment, the Minister of Trade and Industry and we have the Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agency will also be there” Lomindi said.

He stressed that the Commissioner is going to appear, because the previous day as they were discussing, there was already sentiments of impeachment, where a motion was supposed to be raised about his removal or impeachment.

“If he doesn’t show up on Wednesday tomorrow, that means there is going to be a motion of impeachment, so we have heard that he has accepted to come and he is going to be available tomorrow” Hon. Lomindi hinted.

Meanwhile, Mawa A. Moses the State Minister of Roads and Bridges who was part of a ministerial committee sent by the Central Equatoria Cabinet to investigate the issues of persistent logging in Kajo-Keji told the State lawmakers last Wednesday that it’s high time they speak the reality in this August House about the logging saga which he admitted to be very complicated.

The investigative committee constituted and sent down to Kajo-Keji by the State Council of Ministers returned to Juba a week ago with preliminary findings revealing government revenues generating institutions collecting money from what is said to be illegal logging in the county.

The ministerial investigative committee that spent about a month in Kajo-Keji to dig out the truth behind the illicit logging business deals that is posing a security concern to the area said they accomplished only 80% of their mission and would want go back to finish the task.

“Our report indicated that the then administrations of 32 States, that’s the Commissioners of Kangapo and Lire which was Kajo-Keji County that time also had backed that is very clear, because when we interacted with the loggers they made it clear that they were invited and it is not just only we have said but we have evidences of contracts that were signed by those former administration” the minister stated.

“We discovered that the Commissioner collects 1,500 US dollars per truck. The community of Kajo-Keji where I come from also collects money from these loggers. A fee of 2.5 million Ugandan shillings where the 2 million goes to the landlord and the 500,000 Ugandan shillings goes to the administration of the Payam” Minister Mawa revealed.

He further said that the Revenue Authority of the State collects 800 US dollars per truck, the National Custom Service collects 720 US dollars per truck and the forest official in the County takes 100,000 Ugandan shillings per truck.

Having exposed the tip of the iceberg about the logging deals to the MPs, Minister Mawa said they must speak the reality so that the blame is not put on somebody.

“The community signs contracts with the loggers, we have evidences, so everyone is involved” he noted.

He added that they also discovered that the previous committees that had been sent to handle the issue of this illegal logging were been compromised.

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