UGANDA, Lango | Real Muloodi News | Throughout the last decade, Lango region has become a popular destination for large-scale commercial agri-business, tourism, and infrastructure projects.
While promising economic growth and development, these projects have led to large-scale land acquisitions. This in-turn has sparked competition and conflict over land rights in Lango region, making it the new hotbed of land conflict.
Land conflicts in Lango have resulted in the loss of lives, and the delay of several investment projects. Police in the North Kyoga region (Lango) recorded at least 92 murder cases between January and May this year, due to land disputes.
The districts of Lira, Oyam, Kole, Apac, Dokolo, Amolatar, Alebtong, Otuke, and Kwania make up the Lango Sub-region. For most households in Lango, land is their only source of income.
Over 90% of the land in the Lango Sub-region is managed mainly under customary tenure and communal ownership.
The customary/communal ownership system makes official processes of leasing land for investment more complicated, and threatens land security and livelihoods of customary landowners and users.
For example, a dispute over the use of Aler farm has been raging since 2011, pitting 332 residents against Lira District leadership. The 1,500 acres cover about ten villages in both Kole and Lira districts.
According to the Lira LC5 vice-chairperson, Mr George Okello Ayo, the land belongs to Lira District. Residents say they are the rightful owners of the land under customary ownership.
On August 29, 2018, Mr Tom Ogwal Atoocon, together with 331 locals, petitioned the court for help. Two weeks later on September 11, 2018, Justice Alex Macky Ajiji, a former Lira resident judge, ruled in favour of the applicants.
“A temporary injunction doth issue restraining the respondent, her agents, servants or any person or persons deriving any rights, title or interest from her; from alienating, continuing with further trespass, cultivating, entering, interfering with the quiet enjoyment of the suit land…. or destroying the applicants’ crops till the disposal of the main suit,” Justice Alex ruled.
Mr Paul Mbiwa, the former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Lira, said the court injunction halted the Aler farm projects.
Madhvani Group of Companies, for instance, had shown interest in developing part of the land. The Xsabo Group also wanted to build a multibillion-shilling solar power station to supply Lira City with reliable power.
Lira District Council approved a plan to allocate approximately 200 acres of land for the project. However, a court injunction stopped the project.
Last May, four people died in land clashes involving a family and the administration of Akuca-witim Primary School. The victims, who included Charles Olet, Richard Amuju, Odongo and Omara, were killed during a fistfight over ownership of land housing the government school in Oyam District.
According to the Land and Equity Movement in Uganda (Lemu), powerful elites cause most land disputes. According to the reports by LEMU, delays in handling land cases make the situation more critical.
Magistrates’ courts usually take up to 38 months to settle a case, significantly longer than the customary and Local Council systems.
To combat the murders in Lango, Mr Moses Michael Odongo Okune, the paramount chief of Tekwaro Lango- a Cultural Institution, called for a speedy disposal of land-related cases before the court.
“If the cases are heard and resolved without delay before the parties in dispute resort to killing each other, the number of murder cases will drop down forthwith,” the chief of Tekwaro Lango said.
Call 0 800 100 004 to report cases of illegal Land evictions, discrimination based on gender, incidents of corruption and bribery; delayed land transactions, general poor service delivery and absenteeism within the Lands Ministry.
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