By Johnbosco Tugume
John Steven Ekoom, the Hoima Resident District Commissioner (RDC) has been dragged to police for allegedly assaulting a National Forestry Authority Official.
Ekoom is being accused of assaulting Wilfred Tumwesige, the National Forestry Authority-NFA Sector Manager for Kisindi in Hoima district.
In a statement recorded at Hoima police station on Thursday, Tumwesige claims that Ekoom slapped him on Wednesday evening, after they (NFA) impounded a truck of illegal timber, reportedly transported from Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Kyangwali sub-county Hoima.
This Kampala Post reporter saw the assault case reference number: SD 61/10/01/ 2018 at Hoima Central Police Station.
It’s alleged that RDC Ekoom assaulted the National Forest Authority official after a bitter verbal exchange, as the RDC accused Tumwesige of impounding the timber without involving his office and other stakeholders.
There has been bad blood between National Forestry Authority officials in Hoima and the district authorities since Tuesday when Tumwesige and his NFA team carried out an impromptu operation in Bugoma forest reserve and arrested six illegal timber loggers. This annoyed the District Chairman Kadir Kirungi and the RDC who accused the forest officials of acting in isolation of the district authorities.
Julius Allan Hakiza, the Albertine Region Police Spokesperson confirmed the police report against the Resident District Commissioner and said, “We are yet to record a statement from the RDC but investigations are underway.”
Efforts to get a comment from RDC Ekoom were futile as he couldn’t pick this reporter’s repeated phone calls. National Forestry Authority officials have always complained of interference from local authorities, especially politicians whom they accuse of siding with forest encroachers.