Among the key findings are that the families were illegally evicted and displaced from their homes forcing them to take refuge in nearby bushes, villages and Budongo Forest in Masindi district.
Select Committee faults Minister Ernest Kiiza, business man Edgar Agaba and security officers On illegal evictions
A parliamentary select committee
has faulted the Bunyoro Affairs Minister, Ernest Kiiza, police, army and Edgar
Agaba for the illegal eviction of 300 families from their homes in Kirogobya Sub
County in Hoima District. The families were evicted from contested land
measuring 438 hectares in February this year.
Buhaguzi MP, Daniel Muheirwe
brought the plight of the affected people to the attention of parliament. He asked
the house to appoint a select committee to investigate the humanitarian crisis
arising out of the eviction and displacement of the families.
As a result, the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga instituted a select committee led by the
Bukholi County MP, Guster Mugoya, Budaka Woman MP, Pamela Kamoga Naiso and Makindye
East MP, Ibrahim Kasozi Biribawa. Others members included Bududa Woman MP,
Justine Khainza, UPDF Representative, Brig. Flavia Byekwaso, Oyam Woman MP,
Santa Alum and Busiki County MP, Paul Akamba.
She tasked the committee to studying
all claims of ownership on the disputed land, allegations relating to the
identity and status of persons evicted and the involvement and conduct of
security officers in the evictions. On Wednesday, the Committee Chairperson, Guster Mugoya presented their report to parliament.
the key findings are that the families were illegally evicted and displaced
from their homes forcing them to take refuge in nearby bushes, villages and Budongo
Forest in Masindi district. The Committee report particularly faults the Bunyoro Affairs Minister, Ernest Kiiza for not
intervening in the plight of the victims and seek for them relief assistance such
as food and non-food items.
The report also faults Kiiza for presiding
over the Hoima District Security Committee crisis meetings together with Hoima
Resident District Commissioner, Kisembo Araali on February 13th, 2019, which sanctioned
the army and police to conduct a cordon and search operation to purportedly
"flush out a militia or rebel group" in Kyabisagazi
However, the security officers met stiff resistance from the occupants leading to the death of
Police Constable, Vincent Rutaremwa because the operation was a ploy to
give Edgar Agaba the disputed land. The committee noted that the Defense
and Veteran Affairs State Minister, Charles Okello Engola told them that security
agencies screened the residents during the cordon and search operation and ruled
out the existence of a militia or rebel group in Kyabisagazi village as
earlier reported by Hoima District Security Committee.
After conducting a field visit, the committee
observed that the cordon and search operation was "merely a conduit
for the security agencies to hand over the disputed piece of land to Edgar
Agaba, free from encumbrance." Agaba, who is a businessman in Hoima
district, is accused of instructing people to destroy the property of the evictees under
the watch of UPDF soldiers.
The committee concluded that security
agencies carried out an illegal eviction under the guise of flushing out a
militia or rebel group and that there were high levels of unprofessional
conduct of some security personnel including the Commander Field Artillery,
Maj. Gen. Sam Okiding. The committee also faulted the Intelligence Officer of the Artillery Division, Maj. Esau
Mwembembezi and former Hoima District Police Commander, Twaha Etima who led the
The committee has directed the bonafide occupants be
reinstated on their land or be compensated. It also recommends that Agaba be
prosecuted and that the government takes disciplinary action against
police and military officers who participated in the illegal evictions. The committee also notes that government be held liable for the unlawful conduct of
its officers and that military and police officers desist from taking sides on
The committee argues that the involvement of security
officers resulted in the arrest of 75 residents including children, expectant
mothers and the elderly, adding that some of the victims died because of the
forceful evictions. The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah noted that
the select committee report will be debated on a later date.
the Land dispute
The select committee observed that disputed
land is owned by Agaba, who bought it in 2005 for Shillings 28 million after a
one Neko Rukonyongo defaulted on his mortgage he acquired from Uganda
Commercial Bank in 1987.
acquired the disputed land when Uganda Land Commission issued him a lease of 49
years from 1978. However, majority of the evicted persons told the
committee that they have occupied the same piece of land since the 1940s.
confirmed that he found over 600 people living and staying on the land at time
he bought it. He initially allowed them to occupy the land as tenants
paying Shillings 50,000 annually in ground rent. However,
in 2017, Agaba disagreed with the occupants and when ahead to terminate their
tenancy and threatened to evict them.
The affected residents led by the then LC I
Chairman, Simon Achile petitioned the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Land
Commission to intervene. The Commission ordered Agaba not to carry out any
activities on the disputed land including boundary opening for six months until
the Commission its inquiries. Agaba, according to residents, defied the
Commission orders and went ahead to evict them.