Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) is warning the public against poaching and trafficking of ivory. This follows the arrest of four men including two foreigners in the City of Kigali and Rusizi district at different times, who were involved in the sale of smuggled 45 kilograms of ivory through Rwanda.
The group composed of Desire Murokozi, a Rwandan diplomat in SINELAC (La Société Internationale d’Electricité des Pays des Grands Lacs), Gisa Derrick from Rwanda, Kaburaburyo Cyriaque, a Burundian citizen and Nicodem Bagabo from DR Congo was using a vehicle registered with diplomatic number plate to avoid suspicion from law enforcers and being searched.
The driver of the vehicle, Murokozi, who investigations reveals was the mastermind of the illegal business denies his role and says he was duped into accepting the illegal items into the car without checking first.
“I realised that the car I was driving was carrying the tusks after being arrested," he said.
Cyriaque, another suspect, says he regrets trusting the other suspects and going to the wrong place with them. He revealed that Murokozi and Bagabo knew they were carrying the illegal tusks but still asked him to come to Kigali with them.
“I followed orders from my boss to accompany him to Kigali. I didn’t know the car we were travelling in was carrying illegal materials. I accept my role in this situation and regret having trusted these people who involved me in the crime," he confessed.
Speaking to media this Wednesday, October 27, RIB Spokesperson Dr Thierry B. Murangira, revealed that preliminary investigations show that Rwanda was being used as transit for the smuggled ivory to foreign countries for sale. He warned public against these illegal business that endanger regional elephant population.
“These tusks are not from Rwanda. It was being used as a transit in transporting them to buyers abroad. Rwanda will not be a safe haven for criminals engaged in illegal trade and we urge all people desist from engaging in illicit business or face the law," said the Spokesperson.
Bagabo, the Congolese man who unveiled the tusks was remorseful for engaging in the illegal business as he asked for leniency.
“Before God and the Rwandan nation, I am asking for forgiveness,” he pleaded.
The four suspects are being detained at Kicukiro RIB station while their file is compiled for Prosecution.
Trafficking of illegal ivory is a crime under both national and international laws. Article 58 of the Law nº 68/2018 of 30/08/2018 on protection of the Environment stipulates that Any person who hunts, sells, injures or kills animals of a species of wild animal and its products, commits a crime.
If convicted by the court, these suspects shall be sentenced to imprisonment not less than five (5) years but not exceeding seven (7) years and a fine of not less than five million (5,000,000 FRW) but not more than seven million (7,000,000 FRW).
Rwanda under the Presidential Order No. 211 of 25 June 1980 also ratified the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna.
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