Residents Drag Tororo Girls\' School to Court Over Land

In 2013, four families neighboring the school lodged a complaint in the office of the Resident District Commissioner claiming that the school had encroached on their ancestral land.
Eight people neighboring Tororo Girls\' Secondary School have dragged the school Board of Governors to court over a three -acre piece of land. The complainants include John Okitwi, the LC3 Eastern Division Tororo Municipality, Paul Omaidu, Andrew Okware, Mary Anyokorit, Tadeo Okotomeri, Sylvester Otwani, Bruno Adu and Salim Jolo.

Through their lawyer Ekirapa and Company Advocates, the complainants are seeking interim court orders restraining the school, its agents and servants from trespassing, constructing and or processing a certificate of title for the disputed land found at Amagoro “B” South, Mudakkor village in Eastern Division.

The warring parties are expected to appear in court on 19th May 2015 in a suit arising from miscellaneous application number 46 of 2015. According to the complainants, in early 1960s the colonial administration in cooperation with the American government sought to set up girls\' school at Amagoro “B\' South in Tororo Municipality.

Some the applicants claim that, they were already settled on part of the 70 acres of land identified to host the school. They argue that on 14th September 1982, Tororo Municipal council approved the school\'s application for temporary use of 20 acres of their land for Agriculture purposes and they were compensated some minimal money for their property and crops on the land.

They claim that they jointly used the said land together with the school until in 2003, when management stopped using it. However, some teachers occasionally continued cultivation a portion of the land not exceeding 3 acres. The applicants claim that between 2002 and 2013, the school began laying false claim to the land and stopped them from utilizing it. 

The school went ahead to build a perimeter fence around the land and processed a title in an attempt to alienate and grab their land. In 2013, four families neighboring the school lodged a complaint in the office of the Resident District Commissioner claiming that the school had encroached on their ancestral land. Kyeyune Damulira, the then Tororo Resident district commissioner asked the residents and school management to present documents proving their ownership. 

After thorough scrutiny, it was found that, the land belongs to Tororo Girl\'s School. It was also discovered that those who donated the land to the school were compensated and there was no reason why the school should be stopped from fencing it off. Ddamulira reportedly advised the aggrieved parties to go court, something they ignored until Monday this week. 

In December last year, three complainants including John Okitkwi, the LC III chairperson Eastern Division, Stephen Ayet Ofwono, the LC3 councilor Amagoro South A south ward and Joseph Obwin, a clerk in Tororo Chief Magistrate\'s court were picked up for allegedly inciting residents to attack the school. It came after residents raided the school and reportedly looted property while demanding for 20 acres of land, which was donated by their ancestors 30 years ago. 

They were charged with criminal trespass and theft and their cases are still pending in court. Helen Wataba, the head teacher Tororo Girl\'s School describes the move by the residents as an attempt to frustrate the institution from fencing off its land to avoid cases of encroachment by the neighboring communities. Wataba says she is surprised that for decades, the school has been using the same 20 acres of land for demonstration purposes and nobody has ever come up to claim it. 

According to Wataba, school records show that all the families claiming for compensation were adequately compensated in the early 1980\'s and they relinquished the 20 acres land to the school. She said the ongoing activity is not meant to create new boundaries but to fence off the school land based on earlier demarcations.