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TORIT MINISTER REMOVED OVER ILLEGAL LOGGING

By Elia Joseph Loful

Torit State Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Animal Resources Clement Laku Chichim has been relieved of his duties.

In a decree announced on state government radio, Governor of Torit State, Tobiolo Alberio Oromo made the changes last Saturday.

The former minister was accused by the state legislative assembly for being involved in illegal logging business. The State Parliament then formed a committee to investigate the matter.

According to a report of the investigative committee, the outgoing minister and other “like-minded” ministers were summoned on 27th May to answer questions regarding illegal logging and the destruction of the natural forest in Torit State.”

Speaking to Juba Monitor during a phone interview yesterday, Governor Alberio said the minister was relieved following a vote of no confidence against him by the State Members of Parliament.

He said since the minister was appointed, some members of the assembly lobbied for his removal.

“The minister did his best in the ministry, and then of course you know politics, since the date of appointment, some members of the assembly wanted me to relieve the minister based on individual grudges, Gov’t Alberio revealed.

He said illegal logging was not only taking place in Torit State, but also many parts of South Sudan and the entire world.

Alberio said last November, some unnamed companies with 24 trucks were arrested at Nimule border while trying to smuggle logs to Uganda.

“There were 24 trucks impounded in Nimule. It was not only the minister but I myself got involved and took the report to the President and suggested this case must be done in Nimule,” Governor Alberio said.

The outgoing Minister Clement Laku Chichim said the MPs summoned him unconstitutionally.

“One is that Article 78 Sub Article 2 of former Eastern Equatoria State the governor would have been notified for the summon of government official in regard to inquiries of any issues regarding the government.  Secondly, the conduct of business of the former Imotong State article 94 sub articles (1-10) has not been followed,” Chichim said.

He said areas where illegal logging was practiced include greater Magwi and Torit West counties.

Chichim said some of the companies involved in illegal logging came from Uganda and conspired with some locals, some in military uniforms to engage in the illegal trade.

“The companies mostly are Ugandan origin and some members in the military uniform were actually cutting down trees during the war and up to now some of them even do not want to go to cantonment areas,” Chichim said.

He said he honored the changes made by the Governor to relieve him from his position.

However, he protested that the motion moved by the MPs was politically motivated.

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