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Thousands in Kitgum Face Eviction As Cooperative Union Reclaims Ranch Land

The disputed land in question measures about 60 square miles which stretches and covers parts of Lagoro and Lalano Sub Counties in Kitgum district, Wol in Agago district, and Latanya in Pader district.

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7,000 households in Kitgum, Pader, and Agago districts are living in fear of a looming eviction following a longstanding land dispute between the community and the East Acholi Cooperatives Union Limited.

The disputed land in question measures about 60 square miles which stretches and covers parts of Lagoro and Lalano Sub Counties in Kitgum district, Wol in Agago district, and Latanya in Pader district. The land hosts numerous permanent homes, gardens among other structures, and public institutions including Buluzi Primary School in Lagoro Sub County, Kitgum district, and Okwadoko Health Centre III in Wol Sub County, Agago district.

The affected residents are now threatened with an eviction to pave way for the development of the disputed land following a court ruling that declared that Laber Ranch belongs to the East Acholi Cooperatives Union.

The LCIII Chairperson Lagoro Sub County Michael Okello admits that there has been a longstanding dispute in court dating back to 1989 between a resident Olango Lubok and the East Acholi Cooperatives Union. Okello says the matter was still before the court but they were surprised after receiving a letter last week from the East Acholi Cooperative Union notifying authorities to register all the affected residents pending evictions after the court ruled in their favor.

The court ruling on September 2 2021 presided over by the then Kitgum Chief Magistrate Nasulu Hussein Ntalo declared that the land in question belongs to East Acholi Cooperatives Union and ordered all occupants to vacate the suit land in Lamogi and Buluzi villages.   According to Okello, the affected villages in Lagoro Sub County are Lanyaiko, Buluzi, Buluzi Central, Lamogi, Atem, Ateka B, Kiwer in Buluzi parish, and Bolo, Laber, and Burlobo in Laber parish.

//Cue in: “gine tye…..

Cue out: ……jami ma megi”//

The Wol Sub County LCIII Chairperson Thomas Ojok Akaka wonders how a dispute involving the Cooperatives Union and an individual in Kitgum District could stretch over in his area saying residents are ready to seek a temporary court injunction over any eviction. According to Akaka, the most affected villages in Rogo parish include Okwadoko, Odokomit, Acutomer and Langiya, and the trading centres of Logung and Okwadoko.  

//Cue in: “Jo me union…..

Cue out: ……ni ngo opeke”//

Lalano Sub County LCIII Chairperson Bosco Ongom Cankura says the occupants were first threatened with dispossession in 2019 but local leaders convened a meeting and unanimously resolved to block any further activities by the union on their land. He adds that the union is irregularly claiming ownership of large chunks of land in the area as opposed to only six acres they were reportedly given to them by the person they are in court within the ’70s. 

//Cue in: “pud abedo.…

Cue out: …..not be taken”//

David Otoo who claims ancestral ownership of over 300 acres of land in the disputed area since 1970 equally expressed worry that they are claiming more land than a small piece they were given by the community. According to Otto, they are the rightful owners of the land and they have documents to claim it and cannot be evicted without being given a fair hearing.

The Kitgum resident district Commissioner William Komakech urged the residents to remain calm saying as security they have not yet received any notification of overseeing any impending eviction. Komkaech however says they are in talks with officials of East Acholi Cooperatives Union and the affected residents as government to seek a lasting solution to the dispute.

Efforts to get a comment from Henry Komakech, the Manager of the East Acholi Cooperatives Unions were unsuccessful after he declined to talk on the matter.