By Madiba Singhateh
Over 17 containers of rosewoods- banned timber species under the protection of International Trade in Endangered Spices of Wild Flora and Fauna CITES, packed at Buffer Zone and confiscated by the State, has been handed back to the State by the Brikama Magistrate’s Court.
Speaking to this medium at his office, Mr. Lamin Bajo, Regional Forest Officer, said the court has released an order for the logs to be given to the state.
“As we speak, the order has been released since a week back,” he said. “But the logs are still standard at the zone despite court order.”
Mr. Bajo said the accused person, Mr. Saikou Conteh, is a second time offender and since the magistrate cannot fine him twice on the same count, the court has ordered the logs to be taken into state custody.
Bajo said the accused person was previously fine two (2) million dalasis, thus he said, the Magistrate Court cannot fine him again.
It could be recalled that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Mr. Lamin Dibba, had told the National Assembly Select Committee on Environment, that 22 containers were found at the Buffer Zone.
“And out of the 22, five were empty containers and 17 were stocked with processed wood and 1 container loaded with round logs,” Dibba said.
The Minister told the aforesaid committee that the person alleged as the owner of the rosewoods was one Mr. Saikou Conteh, who has not obtained any permit or license to carry on with the activities.
Despite the fine, the containers were still packed at Buffer Zone. Speaking further, Mr. Bajo said since the court ordered the logs to be handed over to the State; the logs have to be handed back to the Regional Office. However, he said the logs are still left at the Zone.
Bajo feared that if proper security is not put in place at the Zone, the logs could go missing, saying some pieces have started to disappear.
According to the 2010 Forest Act, whenever a forest produce is seized, the produce should be handed over to the Divisional Forest Officer, who after obtaining an order of a Magistrate, may – (a) sell such forest produce and pay the proceeds as specified in section 8 after deducting the expenses of the sale and payment of compensation under the provisions of paragraph (f) of section 119; (b) allocate such forest produce to the use of the Government; or destroy such forest produce when necessary.