NEW version of the story surrounding the seizure of over 323.6 kilogrammes of gold last weekend in Mwanza Region has unfolded with latest official details stating that eight police officers are in custody for questioning.
The latest details, however scanty, emerged yesterday after President John Magufuli, the Commander-in- Chief of the armed forces decided to share them with the public, with regard to the incident that left wananchi puzzled.
According to President Magufuli, it was not true that police officers currently in custody for questioning are the ones who impounded the gold haul, including seizing over 305 million/- .
Dr Magufuli said that he personally made a very close follow up on everything that was happening between the police officers in Mwanza and the gold smuggling suspects.
He said that the smugglers were about to take 323.6 kilogrammes of gold out of the country contrary to the law, a move that would have denied the government proper revenues.
“Many people aren’t aware of what exactly happened… I don’t want to interfere with ongoing investigations but I’m aware that the suspects were arrested on January 4 this year in Misungwi, Mwanza,” said the Head of State.
He went on to explain that after that, the suspects were taken to Mwanza City so that they can be grilled at the Central Police Station, however, they (suspects) didn’t enter the station.
While carefully choosing the words, President Magufuli said that instead of entering the station the police officers remained in the vehicle with the suspects to negotiate the bribe.
“So, they agreed that the law enforcers would pocket 1bn/- bribe from the suspected smugglers,” he said, adding;
“They had been given 300 million/- and other 400 million/- was paid later on making advance payment of 700 million/- out of 1billion/- that was agreed earlier; the remaining 300 million/- was agreed to be paid upon reaching Sengerema.”
In the night hours, the police left with the suspects from Mwanza city to Sengerema District via Kamanga ferry. Dr Magufuli added that the police were escorting suspects to the destination where they were to be paid the remaining amount of money.
The President said on the way to Sengerema, the law enforcers escorted the suspects and that during all the escorting period the Head of State was communicating with authorities in Mwanza and the Police Force regarding the matter.
“And, at this point I would like to congratulate the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simmon Sirro and the Mwanza Regional Commissioner (RC) Mr John Mongela as they acted accordingly,” he said.
After they reached Sengerema, they came across a police road block that is when the eight police officers tried to cheat that they were chasing the smugglers, but that wasn’t enough defence because they were already in the government radar,” he said.
Adding, “This is how I ordered that they have to be arrested and brought back to Mwanza City where they will face charges; again, kudos to the IGP for playing his part on this.”
The detained police officers are set to be brought before a military court before they are taken to a civilian court for further legal procedures.
President Magufuli said if IGP wouldn’t have acted properly, then he (Mr Sirro) might have been included in the case.
“But sincerely, he has done a good job and the same should be done in protecting other resources including Tanzanite, forest products and peoples’ properties,” he said further.