Gabon suspends officials over smuggled exotic wood

APA-Libreville (Gabon) By Isaac Mackanga

Several Gabonese Water and Forestry Service officials have been relieved of their duties following the disappearance last week of 353 containers of exotic wood at the port of Owendo, the Minister of Vocational Training has revealed.

Nanette Longa Makinda said Thursday night on national television that her colleague in charge of Justice had, as instructed by the Prime Minister, immediately ordered the public prosecutor to carry out a police investigation to trace the containers and establish those involved in the case.

“The police and judicial investigations have so far noted serious and unacceptable failures, as well as intolerable active and passive conspiracies not only in the administrations of Water and Forestry Service and Customs, but also at the level of economic operators of the timber industry,” Nanette Longa Makinda, also government spokesperson claimed.

Pending the final conclusions of the investigations, the officers of the Customs and Water and Forestry administrations, whose involvement seems to be established, are suspended as a precautionary measure of their duties and responsibilities.

Those suspended are Lin-François Madjoupa, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment in charge of the Climate Plan, Serge Rufin Okana, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry Service, Lucretia Badjina, Director General of the Forestry Service, Ginette Ngombe Mikiela, General Manager of the Industry, Timber Trade and Forest Products Development, Eurol Luce Mapaha, Head of Owendo Control Brigade, and Gislain Makita Indzando and Grass Carine Okani, both Agents at the Owendo Control Brigade.

Some Customs officers and the Ministry of the Economy are also affected by the measure. 

This is true of the Chief of Staff of the Minister of Economy, Pierre Claver Mfouba, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Jeannot Kalima, the Director General of Customs, Dieudonné Lewamouho Obissa, the Regional Director of Customs of the Estuaire, Jean Christian Ndong Bibang and the Director of Customs Surveillance Services.

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