The Gabonese Directorate General of Research and the Provincial Directorate of Water and Forestry have just announced that five suspected ivory traffickers were arrested September 17, 2020 in Franceville in the Upper Ogooue province.
The two services were assisted in the operation by the non-governmental organization (NGO), Conservation Justice.
The network of ivory traffickers is headed by Inossou Balima, of Burkina Faso nationality who was caught with an elephant tusk on the verge of selling it.
After his arrest, Inossou who initially tried to exculpate himself from the accusation, later decided to cooperate with the research as well as Water and Forestry agents.
He revealed that the elephant tusk belonged to Robert Foudou, a 53-year-old Gabonese.
Based on information furnished by Inossou Balima, the agents were eventually able to arrest Yacouba Alimi, of Beninois nationality who was found in possession of two elephant tusks.
When cornered, Yacouba Alimi fingered Esaie Ndemba and Darel Jennifer Mba Obame, both of them Gabonese as owners of the two elephant tusks seized.
The two were eventually arrested at their houses and they both confessed to being the owners of the elephant tusks.
The five persons have been detained in the Directorate General of Research in Franceville awaiting their subsequent transfer to the capital Libreville, where there is a special tribunal that tries such offences.
If eventually found guilty, the five risk prison terms of up to ten years each.
With the arrest of these persons, the Ministry of Water and Forestry is convinced they have dismantled a major ivory trafficking ring.
“The quality of the persons arrested and their diverse nationalities gladdens us and makes us feel that we have dismantled a major ivory trafficking ring that transcends national boundaries”, declared an official of the Ministry of Water and Forestry who elected for anonymity because he is not the official spokesperson of the ministry.