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Nwoya Land Eviction Displaces Hundreds :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Nwoya Land Eviction Displaces Hundreds

Geoffrey Opira, a Poverty Resource Monitor and paralegal says the eviction prevented pupils in four schools in the area from sitting their end of term one examinations. He identified the schools as Leb Ngec Full Gospel Church Nursery School, Lajago Nursery and Primary School, Leb Ngec Primary and Lukung Primary School.
A Recently Burnt Down Homestead in Lajago Village In Pagak Parish, Amuru Sub County

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Hundreds of people evicted from their homes in Pagak Parish and part of Lungulu Sub County in Nwoya and Amuru districts respectively are struggling to survive. The affected people were evicted by unidentified court bailiffs on behalf of West Acholi Cooperative Union from their homes on April 25th 2017 following an exparte court judgment.

 

 

Since their eviction, the affected people are still living with their neighbors and relatives in Omer and Otwee and neighboring areas with limited food supply. On Wednesday, URN counted at least 15 scattered homesteads along a narrow village path without any sign of life between Leb Ngec trading center and Lajago village.

 

 

The affected families want Human Rights Agencies to intervene and help them regain their land rights and harvest the crops they had planted. Some of the affected residents described their sufferings during a week-long land awareness sensitization held in Lajago Village in Pagak Parish on Wednesday, saying they continue living in fear. 

                                                            

 

In their testimony, they claimed that police acted alongside a group of rival civilians and local leaders from neighboring Lungulu Sub County armed with arrows, bows, spears, machetes and guns. They say Police randomly fired shots in the air to scare residents yet they didn't up any resistance.

 

They accused West Acholi Cooperative Union of inflating its land from five acres their ancestors donated for cotton production to 9000. The donors included Mzee Acoki, Mzee Sconty (RIP), Atanasio, Adui, Otto, Lajok Keyo, Cope, Mwa, Simayo, Oyik, Okwera Donato and Lukwiya Yowaci.    

 

Alfred Olyel, one of the affected residents says they don't have any hope of returning to their land because they are continuously being threatened with arrests. According to Olyel, the case against them was heard ex-parte without their knowledge and participation.

58-year-old Mary Auma told URN in an interview that Police forced villagers to flee in disarray as they attacked villages, gardens, schools and homes on the fateful day. She says without compensation, it is hard to survive without relief as two of her children have dropped out of school.

 

52-year-old Rose Apio, a mother of ten says she lost 11 bags of foodstuff and more than 86 animals during the evictions. She also told URN in an interview that she lost a heifer that was providing milk to her orphaned daughter and its calf.

 

 

 

Odwong Aperu, another resident said he was already an adult when the land was being donated to West Acholi Cooperative Union. He accuses their area LC 3 Councilor of siding with those attempting to defraud them. Jerome Ochan, a local leader in Abongo Muduku village says Police surprised residents with the eviction as they went about their routine work.

 

//Cue in: "Wapor apoya ni…

Cue out: "…mukene kigonyo gi"//

Translation: "We were surprised by a high handed eviction under the command of Okello, the Nwoya district Police Commander in which a tractor was used to demolish our huts. They also crashed the only trading center we have here. I was particularly dismayed to witness the DPC of Nwoya, Mr. Okello carrying merchandize which he looted from shops in his official car. We know him for giving guns, bows and arrows to civilians from Junction for evicting us. They used the weapons to forcefully loot our goats and foodstuff, with which they went back, beating whoever they met along the way. Some of our members arrested remain incarcerated to this date in Nwoya district".

Ochan says Police invaded village after village, destroying homesteads and looting livestock, foodstuff and household property before destroying Leb Ngec trading center. He says they loaded all goods they raided onto a Police pick-up before driving off in joyous celebration.

 

According to Ochan, Daniel Okello, the Nwoya district Police Commander personally commanded the "attack" that also saw the destruction of book in four schools and pupils and teachers beaten up. Amuru sub county residents accuse Denis Atube, the Lungulu Sub county chairperson of leading Dan Okello, the Nwoya District Police Commander to cause havoc in Amuru district where he has no jurisdiction. URN learnt that the affected area lies astride the Nwoya - Amuru district borderline.

 

Geoffrey Opira, a Poverty Resource Monitor and paralegal says the eviction prevented pupils in four schools in the area from sitting their end of term one examinations. He identified the schools as Leb Ngec Full Gospel Church Nursery School, Lajago Nursery and Primary School, Leb Ngec Primary and Lukung Primary School. 

//Cue in: "Lajago Nursery and…

Cue out: "…fear they have"//

According to Opira, his preliminary assessment indicates that 10,500 acres of crop fields were destroyed during the eviction. He said majority of the affected residents have taken refuge in Omer and Amuru district headquarters amongst others. He appeals for the establishment of a temporal settlement for the affected people as they pursue their case.

 

David Ochira, the Amuru sub county chairperson advises the affected residents to formally report their complaints at Amuru central Police station for further investigations.

Dan Okello, the Nwoya District Police Commander is yet to comment on the accusations leveled against him as his known phone number was off when contacted by our reporter in Gulu.

Sheila Pearl Katukunda, a legal officer with FIDA Uganda said allegations raised by the residents must be followed by thorough investigations.

//Cue in: "According to what…

Cue out: "…from the start"//

Katukunda advised the community to file a formal representative suit demanding for compensation.

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