The Daily Monitor reported that State House Directorate of Lands officials ordered Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers off contested land at Lebngec Upper Village, Longulu Sub County. The Lands officials were on a fact-finding visit to Nwoya District.
Locals had sought the President’s intervention in cases of mistreatment by soldiers deployed by Capt Emmanuel Oloya Luger. Capt Luger is an officer attached to 3rd Division in Moroto.
Mr. Edward Sunday Ochieng, Presidential Assistant Private Secretary on Land Affairs, was among the officials. During an interaction with the locals, Mr. Ochieng said besides the soldiers violating the people’s rights, they were illegally deployed.
“The land belongs to Uganda Land Commission. If he (Capt Oloya) brings soldiers to guard the land, he is not only violating the rights of the other land users but also illegally claiming ownership of land,” the Daily Monitor reported Mr. Ochieng to have said.
Claiming to be working on orders from the State House, Capt Oloya evicted 31 families. He then fenced the land, and deployed seven soldiers to guard it in November last year. Based on the Daily Monitor’s report, Capt Oloya asked the residents to challenge him in court after he was asked to defend his actions.
Mr. Ochieng, however, ordered the District Security Officials to remove the fence and challenged Capt Oloya to seek redress from the courts of law if he felt offended.
“I am asking the District Police Commissioner (DPC), DISO, and the security team who are here to remove that gate today, let Capt Oloya go to court himself. Let it be removed and we see his soldiers kill us,” Daily Monitor quoted Mr. Ochieng as saying.
The officials also ordered that there shouldn’t be any more evictions, and those evicted may reoccupy their land.
Lt Patrick Mindra, the Nwoya District UPDF Commandant, said the accusations were being investigated. They would prosecute the culprits once investigations are complete, he added.
The visit by the Ochieng team followed a letter to the President dated February 19th by one petitioner, Prof Ogenga Otunu. The letter asked the President to rein in Capt Oloya, who had forcefully occupied his late father Yusto Otunu’s 800 acres of land at Lebngec Upper Village, according to the Daily Monitor.
“In November 2020, Capt Oloya, who had no legitimate claim of the land, violently seized the land and the surroundings on claims that he was directed by the State House,” Prof Otunu wrote.
During the meeting, it was established that only one resident, Ms. Santa Opiyo Lukone, had a land title for her 528 acres, though her lease expires this year. As for late Yusto, his lease application for the 800 acres from the Gulu land office has been pending since 1980.
Failure by the locals to document their land has escalated land battles in the region, according to Mr. Filbert Waibi, the Nwoya District Police Commander’s account to the Daily Monitor.
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