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Acholi Clerics Mediate in Clan Land Row

The mediation comes nearly six months after a violent inter-clan clash among Pajong clan members that left 16 people with severe body injuries in rivalry over the land in Lyelukwar village in Pela Parish.
Gulu Archdiocese Archbishop John Baptist Odama speaking at a recent meeting in Agago District. Photo By Julius Ocungi

Audio 4

Clerics under the Acholi Religious Leaders peace initiative, have initiated mediation among Pajong clan members in Omiya Anyima Sub-county in Kitgum district over ownership of customary land.

The mediation comes nearly six months after a violent inter-clan clash among Pajong clan members that left 16 people with severe body injuries in a dispute over the land in Lyelukwar village in Pela Parish.

A retaliatory attack in June left a farmer identified as Justine Okwir from Pajong clan dead, forcing hundreds of Palwo clan members to flee their villages in fear of revenge attacks.

Gulu Catholic Archbishop Dr John Baptist Odama who doubles as ARLPI Vice-Chairperson chairing the mediation told URN in an interview that they aim at restoring peace among the communities and bringing an end to violence. 

Archbishop Odama accompanied by Sheikh Musa Khelil, Acholi Muslim District Khadi met with a section of the aggrieved clan members from Pajong, Akara and Palwo at the Kitgum Resident District Commissioner's board room.

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Archbishop Odama notes that the greed to own a large chunk of land and desire to sell land for the quick accumulation of assets such as motorcycles, especially among the youth, is escalating land conflicts in the sub-region.

He cautioned elders on passing accurate information to young people on land use and inheritance citing that if not well passed, it will spark off conflicts.

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Julius Peter Otto, Omiya Anyima Sub-county LCIII Chairperson says the mediation is a positive move that will help to restore relationship among the communities that have been for long rivalling over the land.

He, however, emphasized that both sides should ensure they are honest with the information they are passing out if he mediation is to make any positive impact. Luo

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He, however, suggested that the ARLPI team should ensure that an injunction is placed on the utilization of the land until the issues are resolved, an independent body be fronted to investigate the land matter and security beefed up for the safety of locals still facing threats.

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A total of 22 suspects arrested over the land wrangles in May and June that resulted in the killing of one person and injuring of 16 others in Lyelukwar in Pela Parish are currently on remand in Gulu Central Prison on charges of attempted murder and Murder.

The contentious land in question covers thousands of hectares and was a former communal hunting ground belonging to the Pajong clan. It, however, became a center of the dispute in 2017, after some clan members became disgruntled with the allocation of the land among the sub-clan members of Pajong Pajut, Pajong Popira, and Pajong Kal. 

Three cases of murder linked to the land conflict have been registered in the districts of Kitgum and Pader between May and October this year. The most recent was the gruesome murder of 65-year-old Eveline Atoo, a farmer and resident of Alima East village in Dure Parish, Latanya Sub County in Pader district who was killed last month.