By Gerald Tenywa
On a typical Sunday, when the church is full to the brim, Ben Baguma steps up to the pulpit to implore people to abandon their sinful ways. He is the reverend of Rwebisengo Parish in Ntoroko district.
When I caught up with him recently, it was not in the environs of Rwebisengo. He was in detention at Kira Road Police Station in Kampala over charges of poaching elephants.
Baguma’s other life came to light when wildlife officials, together with the army, bust a racket behind the armed killing of elephants in Kibale National Park. It was an unpleasant scene.
The reverend was barefooted. Because of his position in society, he always avoided eye contact. He was ashamed of the charges placed against him.
Rangers, who were excited about what they called a big catch, kept urging him to face the camera.
He did not oblige and they forcefully pushed his head to look up. It was a ‘feast’ for the pressmen and onlookers. “He has been poaching for long, but his luck ran out when we used spies as buyers of ivory,” said Moses Olinga, a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) law enforcement officer, who coordinated the operation.
“We have a network of informers and Baguma’s name kept coming up as the chief financier of ivory trade in most of the intelligence reports,” he added.
In their statements recorded by UWA officials in Kampala, Baguma and Kamuhangire Muhereza, who was arrested with the cleric, denied any wrongdoing. More....