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Tilenga Landowners Storm Hoima High Court, Demand For Justice :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Tilenga Landowners Storm Hoima High Court, Demand For Justice

The PAPs who were holding placards inscribed with words like Stop land grabs, don’t displace us for oil, for Tilenga, stormed the Hoima High Court at around 10 a.m. protesting the December 2023 court verdict.
The Tilenga PAPs while at the Hoima High court premises.Photo by Emmanuel Okello.

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Landowners living under the threat of eviction in the Albertine Graben’s Buliisa district stormed the High Court Hoima demanding justice. They are demanding for a judicial review against a Court ruling that permitted the government to evict them from their land.   

Some of the infrastructure by TotalEnergies’ Tilenga project will displace the 42 families.  Tilenga Project is the country’s biggest upstream development that is operated by French energy giant TotalEnergies, which will produce 190,000 barrels of oil per day.   

Some of the members from the affected families were holding placards as they matched through the streets of Hoima towards the High Court Hoima. 

The placards had different messages including; “like Stop land grabs”, “Don’t displace us for oil”, “Our land our lives”, Justice denied, and Don’t Drill on Our Rights among others.   One of the landowners Fred Mwesige led the peaceful protest. He then read out the petition as a handful of court officials helplessly watched the drama unfold at the court.    

Top on their grievances was the way the High Court Judge in Hoima handled the petition filed by the Attorney General’s Chambers.   Mwesige explained that the court ruling delivered within four days without granting those sued by the government a hearing.  

//Cue in: “Communities are displaced…

 Cue out…effective judicial review.”//   

The landowners expressed concern the government is prioritizing the interests of oil companies over the rights of its citizens.   

They demanded for halt of the eviction and compensation processes until an independent expert conducts a thorough, inclusive, and transparent review of the court ruling.  

They want the government to ensure fair and adequate compensation for the affected landowners based on independent valuation and in consultation with the community.  

The project-affected persons also want the government to address the outstanding land disputes and unclear land ownership issues before proceeding with the project.

They further want the government to guarantee the affected communities’ right to fair process and access to justice by affording them a reasonable opportunity to present their case in a reasonable time and by properly examining the submissions, arguments, and evidence adduced by the parties. 

Kato Tumusiime, a lawyer representing the landowners said they are questioning how the evaluation was made and final rates were determined.  

//Cue in: “People affected by…

Cue out:…should be compensated.”// 

Tumusiime explains that what the government did by compulsorily acquiring land from the PAPs is contrary to Article 26 of the 1995 constitution.   

Under Article 26 (2) (b) of the Constitution, compulsory acquisition of property can only be made under a law that makes provision for prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation.  

Fred Balikenda, one of the landowners said his land was fenced off by TotalEnergies in 2022 before agreeing compensation, even though the oil company built a replacement house for him.   





On December 8th, 2023, Justice Jessy Byaruhanga of Hoima High court ruled that the families’ compensation be deposited in court, to be processed after TotalEnergies E&P has taken over the land.

 The legal battle stemmed from a suit filed by the Attorney General on 4th December against the 42 Projects Affected Persons from several villages in Buliisa and Hoima Districts.   

The ruling was on miscellaneous cause 24 of 2023 filed by the Attorney General versus 42 respondents. The suit was filed as per Article 26(2) of the constitution and under the Land Acquisition Act and Civil Procedure Act among others. 

Hoima High Court Judge, Byaruhanga ruled in favor of the Ministry of Energy represented by the Attorney General that the over 950 million shillings should be deposited at the court.   

The 42 landowners refused compensation rates offered by the government for them to relocate and allow the development of oil infrastructure under the Tilenga project by TotalEnergies.  

 The Attorney general sued the landowners on December 4, 2023, and its main prayer was that court allows the Ministry of Energy to compulsorily acquire the land and deposit compensation for project affected persons (PAPs) in court, pending resolution of their disputes.   

 The Hoima High Court judge delivered the ruling within four days of filing of the case and after one hearing, which the PAPs have protested.The landowners have been  battling the energy giant since 2022.  



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