Omukat joined the group that dragged the government to court in 2010 over the losses incurred during turbulent times in Teso. But they are yet to receive compensation despite incurring more costs in the pursuit of justice. He says that on average, he has spent more than five million Shillings.
Pius Omukat lost 48 head of cattle, 20 goats and
several other properties in 1987. Omukat, 67, a resident of Kamuge
Village in Pallisa District, is among the 200,500 people under Teso War
Victims and Cattle Rustling Debt Claimants’ Association seeking compensation from government over
the property lost during insurgency.
Omukat joined the group that dragged the government to court in
2010 over the losses incurred during turbulent times in Teso. But they
are yet to receive compensation despite incurring more costs in the pursuit of justice. He says that on average, he has spent more than five million Shillings.
“The Court case started in Kampala where I travelled thrice
before the matter was brought to Soroti High Court. At the time, I would spend
on average, 100,000 Shillings on every trip to Kampala. In Soroti, I spend at
least 60,000 Shillings every time I travel from Pallisa for the hearing,” he says.
In the process, Omukat has failed to educate his eight
children whom he says were affected by his several trips to Soroti over the
compensation case in court. He says that even the food production to sustain
his family was affected as he spent a lot of his time on the road.
“I would sell part of the food meant
for domestic use to raise money for transport to Soroti. My family suffered
hunger and deficiency for basic needs”, he continued. At the moment, Omukat says he has nothing much to rely on except
to bank his hopes in the compensation funds to re- establish his home.
//Cue in; “From that time…
Cue out…it goes.”//
Vivian Anino, a widow
from Ogongora Village, in Amuria District has just joined the group of
elders seeking compensation from government. Anino was not involved in the
matter until last year, when she lost her husband, Michael Ebolu, who was registered by Teso Animals and Property
Compensation Organization- TAPCO.
Ebolu's name is among the 33,664 claimants
currently being validated by government for compensation. He lost 24 heads of
cattle, 16 goats and five sheep to the Karimojong rustlers in 1988. But the widow had to plead with the in- law, who just married
her daughter for 300,000 Shillings to enable Anino to meet the costs of securing letters
of administration from the court and place an advert in the local newspaper-
Aicerit, the weekly paper in Teso.
Such is the agony of several other people seeking
compensation for the lives and property lost between the 1980s' to 2003 when
Teso suffered loss at the hands of the rebels, government soldiers and
cattle rustlers. Some of the elders have been to court for almost 20 years, a
period that has seen many die before realizing any gains from their effort.
There are more than 300,000 people who ran to court in five
different cases against the Attorney General seeking compensation. They include
Okupa & Others, Ochen Julius
& 200,500 Others,
Geresom Eotu & Others,
and Imodot & Others. In all these cases, the government was either compelled to take
responsibility by court or just admitted through an out of court settlement. But
the claimants continue to spend resources in pursuit for the compensation.
Besides other costs, each member of the Teso War Victims and
Cattle Rustling Debt Claimants’ Association is paying cumulative cost of 168,000 Shillings to meet operations, legal fees and administrative costs incurred in
following up the matter in court. Julius Ocen, their leader says that the figure was arrived
at by members at the initial stages of litigation.
//Cue in “When we started…
Cue out…and something.”//
At the moment, even the local authorities like the village
chairpersons have taken the advantage to extort money from the desperate claimants
in order to serve them with documents to enable government validate them.
Alfred Elalu Edakasi, the MP Kaberamaido County recently
told the Deputy Attorney General, Jackson Kafuuzi that village chairpersons in
his area were charging up to 70,000 Shillings for a stamp to recommend
claimants for compensation.
Ngora Woman MP Stella Isodo also reiterated similar
incidents in Ngora district. She said that in her constituency, a claimant is
charged up to 200,000 Shillings for the stamp. The Office of the Attorney General is currently validating a
list of 33,664 claimants in the first phase of compensation expected to
commence this month. Government has allocated 50 billion shillings to Teso for