Anthony Ocaya, the Apaa Township LC II Chairperson told URN that a scuffle ensued after security rejected the demands by traders prompting residents to pelt them with stones claiming that they were segregating between the Acholis and Madi.
Amuru District Woman MP Lucy Akello recently adressing residents of Apaa
renewed tension between security and residents of Apaa Township in Adjumani
district following the presidential directives aimed at containing a surge
in COVID-19 infections. On Sunday
President Museveni banned inter-district travels, communal and weekly markets
as well as public gathering for 42 days in a bid to contain the spread of
COVID-19 in the country.
Despite this, hundreds of traders on more than
ten trucks from the West Nile region and neighboring districts of Gulu and Amuru
and parts of Elegu border town tried to access the weekly Tuesday market in
Apaa to buy produce and sell their merchandise. However, more than twenty heavily armed security personnel from Uganda
People's Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers and police blocked the trucks from
accessing Apaa market through Amuru district on grounds of contravening the ban
on inter-district travel.
protested the decision and accused security of selective application of the
directive because the traders from West Nile had been allowed in. The traders collected
clubs and sticks and threatened to attack the security officers for the biased
decision unless their counterparts from West Nile also expelled from the market.
Anthony Ocaya, the Apaa Township LC II Chairperson told URN that a scuffle
ensued after security rejected the demands by traders prompting residents to
pelt them with stones claiming that they were segregating between the Acholis
and Madi. He said that it took the intervention of the local authorities to calm
down the situation as both the security and residents were charging towards
Charles Odong, the Apaa market chairperson told URN that the residents were
angered by what they termed as undermining the Acholi community as it has been
the case since 2015 when the government declared that Apaa was in Adjumani
district. At least 1,253 market vendors had registered with Amuru local
government to operate in the market before the ethnic conflict started in 2017.
Wilson Acuma, a member of the Apaa local council asked the government to revise
the boundary lest it continues provoking anger among the residents who have
been in conflict over the ancestral ownership of the land. He explained
that the historical boundary between Amuru and Adjumani districts was at Juka
bridge (Juka /Zoka means stop) which is more than 20 kilometers outside the
security officer in Apaa told URN on condition of anonymity that the
restrictions on the border was prompted by the 2015 border demarcation by the
Ministry of Local government, which indicated that Apaa Township is in Adjumani
district. The security source also explained that the trucks were blocked
at Apaa junction because they were from other districts.
The Contested Apaa Land
Elders in the contested area say that in 1911 the British drew administrative
boundaries between West Nile and Acholi, in the current day Amuru and Adjumani
districts. Apaa, which measures approximately 20 square kilometers was
reportedly infested by tsetse flies and was mainly used as a hunting ground for
certain reasons including health. But as time passed, the Uganda Game
Department amended stator instrument Number 17 and gazetted a hunting area for
licensed gun holders.
this was revoked by then-President Idi Amin`s decree in March 1972.
Stealthily, in 1973 a resolution was passed allowing residents to return and
occupy the land, which they said was ancestrally owned. As lives returned
in the area, it was again disorganized by the 20-year Lord`s Resistance Army
insurgency which forced many people to abandon the land and settle in camps.
in 2002 while people were in the camps, parliament gazetted the land into a
protected area to promote tourism. As the LRA war subsided, people
started returning to the land but were blocked by the Uganda Wildlife Authority
(UWA). Conflicts over the land sucked in Acholis in Amuru and their
Madi neighbours in Adjumani, with each side claiming the land.
in 2015 when the government demarcated the area 8-kilometres into Adjumani
district, a stretch extending from Juka Bridge. This escalated conflicts
between the two tribes leading to loss of lives and properties. The
deadly clashes attracted the attention of local leaders and government leading
to the formation of a probe committee but to date, no solutions have been found.
Emmy Daniel Ojara is a young journalist and has been practicing since 2013, during which he covered land rights violation in the contested Apaa and Lakang in Amuru as his first take ups while at Gulu Fm, Favor Fm and later Paidha Fm and Speak Fm where he is still attached.
Human rights abuses and denied access to land by security and government agencies has been the major aftermath of the contest over the lands. The underprivileged such as women, children and the elderly faced challenges in accessing soc