• Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Community Petitions Judge in the Matter of Land Eviction

UGANDA, Bukedea Real Muloodi News | Tensions in the eastern district of Bukedea are at breaking point, as community residents make a frantic petition to the judiciary for help after a land eviction case file has gone missing.

In August 2020, 1,428 residents of Bukedea sued to block their eviction and the takeover of 2,000 acres of their ancestral land. However, one and half years later, the case is in turmoil after the file went missing.

Through Alliance Advocates, the residents first petitioned Principal Judge Flavian Zeija in June 2021 for her expeditious help locate the missing file of the “land grabbing case,” alleging that high- profile government officials could have a hand in the disappearance of the file.

Alfred Edeke, on behalf of the 1,428 residents of Amujeju village in Kabarwa sub-county in Bukedea district, in August 2020 sued seven parties, including the government and its agents at the High court in Soroti for land grabbing, torturing, and arresting others.

According to the January 3, 2022 petition to the Principal Judge Flavian Zeija written by counsel George Lukwago from Ssemengo & Co. Advocates, when the complainants’ lawyers; Alliance Advocates, followed up the matter in court, they were told the file was in Kampala. When they took up the matter with Kampala, they discovered the file had gone missing.

The complainants, via their attorneys, claim that the land eviction case contains delicate matters such as unlawful evictions from ancestral land, assault, setting homes on fire, theft of property, rape of certain female complainants, and murder of some of their relatives.

“Our clients allege that [a government official] and other individuals are behind the evictions, and if their case file is not seen, this may prejudice them, abuse their right to property, abuse their right to a fair hearing, abuse their right to life, all of which are enshrined under the Constitution,” the petition reads in part.

The petition follows the Principal Judge’s letter from last year, in which he instructed the assistant registrar of Soroti High Court to brief him on the case.

Those named in the suit include the Attorney General, the Inspector General of Police, the District Police Commander of Bukedea, and the chairperson of Kamutur Sub-county, Mr Jackson Ojekede. Michael Shimanya, Moses Bwayo, and Fred Ojepa are also implicated.

It is claimed that in May 2019, Shimanya, Bwayo, and Mr Ojekede, accompanied by more than 100 people, attacked 128 homes containing more than 1,051 people in Amujeju Village, Bukedea District, forcing them to flee for their lives and being migrated to live elsewhere in violation of their human rights.

The complainants claim that the three accused males and their collaborators damaged their crops, household goods, and animals and beat and tortured them to violate their rights and the Constitution.

“That the second and third (IGP and DPC of Bukedea) declined and …to investigate, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the atrocious actions of arson, rape, malicious damage to property, … assault, trespass to land and illegal eviction, committed against the applicants and others in violation of their rights to equality before the law and their right to protection of their protection of their property,” the complainants state.

In a sworn declaration, Mr Edeke claims that due to the aforementioned illegal conduct, each complainant suffered damages due to their homes being burned, livestock and other property being robbed, and crops being destroyed.

“That the respondents in total disregard of a court order, a group of about 200 people led by the 4th, 5th, and 6th respondents while armed with crude weapons among others machetes and spears entered upon the suit land, declaring that they came in the authority of the President of the Republic of Uganda and that the president had authorised the Woman MP of Bukedea District, Hon Anita Among to forcefully evict all the residents from the land to pave way for construction of a State House, army barracks and a farm,” he states.

He claims that certain leaders informed the government about the property’s availability for investment without disclosing that they were the landowners who needed to be compensated.

According to court documents, Hainan Qinfu Foods Co. Limited is interested in spending $450 million in Uganda. The prospective fishing company’s property in Bukedea was identified.


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