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State handed envelope with names of key suspects in illegal logging

KENYA
By Protus Onyango | May 1st 2018
Green Belt Movement chairperson Marion Wakanyi Kamau (Left) presents a task force report on forest management and logging activities to Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko (Right) on 30th April 2018. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

A probe team has handed to the Government a list of names of key suspects in the destruction of forests in the country.

The list was part of the final report that a team formed two months ago to investigate the wanton destruction of forests presented to Deputy President William Ruto and Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko yesterday.

Though the Government promised to implement the recommendations, it did not share the names of the suspects with the media, citing legal bottlenecks.

“I have received two reports; one on the overall mandate of managing our forests, but the other confidential one on individuals who have been identified for malpractice in the forests. I cannot name the names in this envelope because it will jeopardise the work of other agencies involved in investigations and prosecution.

"But I'm handing the latter to Ethics and Anti-Corruptions Commission (EACC) for further investigations,” said Mr Tobiko.

He said politicians had been interfering with the task-force’s work, but vowed that the Government would not be cowed by their antics.

“This is purely a professional assignment and though we are aware that some politicians are not happy with what we are doing, we will not be scared,” he said.

While commending the team for coming up with the report, Ruto said environment issues have not only become national but also international concern that call for “coherent and punitive measures” to tame degeneration.

“I commit to you that the report’s recommendations will be implemented. I appreciate the fact that some decisions would be pretty difficult to make, but they will have to be done,” the DP said at his Karen office.

Ruto revealed that the Government would soon employ the services of the National Youth Service and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in an aggressive replanting of indigenous trees for at least three years, to help the country’s forest cover regenerate. 

Government plans to have at least 10 per cent forest cover by 2030, a move, Ruto said, is part of the measures being undertaken to mitigate climate change.

Forest cover

The task-force, headed by the Green Belt Movement chairperson Marion Kamau, has recommended that the board and management of Kenya Forest Service (KFS) should be held to account for the depletion of forest cover in the country.

Consequently, Government will in three days beginning today appoint a caretaker management team to oversee operations at KFS, and in 10 days put in place a framework to implement the teams’s far-reaching recommendations.

Immediate investigation and prosecution of 16 KFS suspended officers-including others still in office but implicated in malpractices, banning of logging of cedar trees in all forests and their products removal of squatters in the forest are among the recommendations of the taskforce.

The report noted that KFS is marred by corruption and incompetence. 

“The board and management of KFS has been unable to stem, and in some instances have directly participated in, abated and systemised corruption and abuse of office,” Ms Kamau said.

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