About 1500 residents living at Maruzi ranch in Akokoro Sub County, Apac district, are demanding a compensation of 1.5 billion shillings from the government for alleged torture. The residents claim that on January 2, 2012, they were tortured and harassed by a group of game rangers under the command of Apac Resident District Commissioner Justin Kasibante.
About 1500 residents living at Maruzi ranch in Akokoro Sub County, Apac district, are demanding a compensation of 1.5 billion shillings from the government for alleged torture.
The residents claim that on January 2, 2012, they were tortured and harassed by a group of game rangers under the command of Apac Resident District Commissioner Justin Kasibante.
Through their Lira-based lawyers, Makmot-Kibwanga & Co. Advocates, the residents say RDC Kasibante ordered them off the place, where they have been staying for years.
They have also written to the Attorney General, notifying him of their intention go to court over the matter. Their letter is dated April 13, 2012.
Jasper Odongo, a local resident who claimed he was severely tortured by the government operatives, says they should be compensated for the torture, loss of properties, and general damages they incurred during the attack.
Odongo says a permanent injunction should also be instituted barring the government from claiming the ownership of Maruzi ranch in Apac district.
Lucy Ocen, who said she was beaten, also wants the threats of unlawful eviction, arrest and intimidation by the security agents stopped.
Bob Okae, Apac district LC5 chairperson says the council wants to take over the management of the ranch and allocate it to a potential investor if government has failed to properly manage it.
Okae says the locals who are still staying at the ranch should be evicted to pave way for the redevelopment.
RDC Kasibante, however, denied the claims of having commanded a group of security operatives that invaded the ranch and tortured people.
But he said it is illegal to stay in a government ranch and that they cannot entertain environmental degradation in the government ranch, insisting that all those who have been staying there should be evicted forthwith.
Kasibante described the intention to sue as a misguided missile, warning that the residents should just leave the government ranch before they can be forcefully evicted.
Maruzi ranch is the only government owned ranch in Lango sub region. In 2004, the ranch was leased to a private developer for 49 years, something that saw Ben Olwa, the former LC5 chairperson of Apac and his executive investigated three years later.
Olwa and his executive committee were then accused of conniving with the former Chief Administrative Officer of Apac, Billy Okunyu, to lease the ranch to NEGRIC Company Limited for 49 years. The lease agreement was not approved by the District Council. The investigations, however, did not go far.