Police nab fertilizer smugglers

GASABO - Some 13 bags of fertilisers were Sunday morning impounded by police from a Burundi-bound Jaguar bus. Augustin Nkusi, the Prosecution’s publicist revealed this in an exclusive with The New Times at his office in Kimihurura, Wednesday.
Dr. Agnes Karibata.
Dr. Agnes Karibata.

GASABO - Some 13 bags of fertilisers were Sunday morning impounded by police from a Burundi-bound Jaguar bus. Augustin Nkusi, the Prosecution’s publicist revealed this in an exclusive with The New Times at his office in Kimihurura, Wednesday.

“As you very well know these fertilisers are very useful for national development and this crime, stealing them from national stores and taking them out of the country for sale is being taken very seriously,” Nkusi said. He explained that some of the culprits including the driver were immediately detained.

This occurred when the bus stopped over at Giti Kinyoni, a short distance from Nyabugogo, and the offenders started loading the bags while pretending that it was wheat headed for Gikongoro and Butare.

“A police officer on board reacted after the doors of the boot gave in and the bags ripped, exposing the contents,” Nkusi said.

“We are disturbed by this incident because the issue has been going on for some time now,” he added, appealing to the press to help.

“The case is still under investigation as it is not yet clear who exactly are involved,” he explained further, saying that a one Elisa Minani was also in custody.

23 out of the 44 people linked to smuggling fertilizers are reportedly in custody.

The serious infringement has been spotted in several districts countrywide including Gasabo, Nyagatare, Huye, Ngoma, Rusizi, Rubavu, Nyamagabe, Muhanga and Karongi.

As earlier reported, Police, Agriculture Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s office recently vowed to crack down on the practice.

The acting Commissioner General of Police, Mary Gahonzire, this week warned that those found in illegal possession of fertilizers will be arrested.

“We have been asked to track these thieves down. The public should stand warned,” she said.

State Minister for Agriculture, Agnes Karibata, said that measures were in place to distribute subsidized fertilizers to all farmers especially those growing rice and maize but some unscrupulous people were stealing them.

“Yes, we increased productivity in agriculture last year. But we want it doubled and nobody should divert the fertilizers,” Karibata said.

According to Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, fertilizer thieves will be charged with economic sabotage and the suspects will on conviction be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. Accomplices too will not be spared.

Innocent Bikoro Bukuru, an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture, was recently arrested.  He was trying to illegally sell two tons of this season’s fertilizers.

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