• Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

Catholic Parish Priest in Kanungu Detained Over Community Conflict

UGANDA, Kanungu | Real Muloodi News | On Monday, January 30th, 2023, the police in Kanungu District briefly arrested Rev. Fr. Lucas Kizza, the Nyamwegabira Catholic Parish Priest, for interfering in a dispute involving the community and Kashesha Catholic Church leaders in Kihembe Sub County.

The incident began when leaders of Kashesha Catholic Church were arrested for blocking a community road. Rev. Fr. Kizza became involved when he demanded the unconditional release of the church leaders or to be detained with them, as they were acting under his leadership.

As a result, Rev. Fr. Kizza and others were taken to Kanungu Central Police Station to be dealt with by the District Security Committee.

The Parish Priest and his group were released on police bond and must report back on February 13th, 2023 while the police complete their investigation.

The conflict reportedly started when MTN Uganda acquired a plot of land to build a mast.

The church and MTN agreed on terms, but the company later changed their plans and decided to construct the mast on a different plot. This required the use of the road that passed through the church’s land to access the new mast site.

Locals say that they were surprised the Priest appeared with unidentified people and blocked and fenced off the community road.

Nyabirehe settlement is connected to the neighbouring villages of Nyakasharara and Rukarara by the one-kilometre road, which is same road also links to the area’s municipal water supply.

According to residents, the road has been in place for more than 50 years and serves as a barrier between Kashesha Catholic Church, Nyamwegabira Catholic parish, Kabale diocese, and people’s land.

Frank Geoffrey Byaruhanga, 51 years, one of the concerned area residents says that MTN’s decision to drop constructing the network booster in the church land angered Rev. Fr. Kiiza, who appeared on Monday last week with unidentified people who blocked and fenced the road. On asking him why they had blocked the road, Rev. Fr. Kiiza reportedly told them to open another road in their own land.

Eliphaz Sabitti, Kihembe Sub-County councillor representing Kihembe parish says that the matter escalated after locals mobilised and demolished the fence and reopened the road, but Rev. Fr. Kiiza again re-appeared with his group and fenced it once more.

The church’s decision to close the road upset the residents, leading to police intervention.

Even the police’s involvement, which resulted in the arrest of Rev. Fr. Kiiza and his group, did not resolve the situation, according to Sabitti. He claims that after obtaining police bonds, they once more fenced off the road and dug holes in it.

Sabitti believes that in addition to the wrangles growing from the network booster, strong political religious wrangles between protestants and Catholics in the region might also be the reason why Rev. Fr. Kiiza is directing the catholic church administration to block the road.

When contacted, Rev. Fr. Kiiza said that the matter is before the court but it was not revealed which exact party, the locals or the church, petitioned the court.

Ambrose Mwesigye Amanyire, Kanungu Resident District Commissioner said that his office is handling the matter amicably.


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