Tuesday February 14 2012

Amuru locals secure court injunction to halt eviction

Apaa Village

Apaa Village residents, ponder their next move after they were evicted recently from a game reserve by Uganda Wildlife Authority. 

By Sam Lawino


Residents of Apaa Parish in Amuru District have secured a court injunction, restraining the army, police and Uganda Wildlife Authority from evicting them from the area.

The High Court in Gulu placed the injunction following an application by the residents on Friday. Resident judge Wilson Musene said: “I hereby under my seal, grant the injunction on the land until the matter is disposed of before court.”

6,000 affected
Some of the petitioners include: Mr Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak County MP, Prof. Kenneth Lapenga, the director of Action Aid Uganda, and Mr Michael Nyeko Abong. The petitioners, who represent the over 6,000 residents, also sued UWA, seeking Shs20b in damages to their crops, houses and livestock during last year’s eviction of about 300 households.

Mr Olanya, however, said despite the injunction, UWA has continued to stop teachers and pupils from going to a primary school located in the area and also chased away nurses from Apaa Health Centre II.

“People are living in fear... which is unfortunate,” he said on Saturday.
However, the conservation manager of East Madi Game Reserve, Mr Tom Obong Okello, said Mr Olanya’s allegations are malicious.

“We have not chased anybody. What we know is that Mr Olanya is inciting the youth to beat up those who are voluntarily moving out of the land.”
He said they would continue to evict the people until UWA gets the injunction notice from the court.

“It will depend on where the injunction applies but what we know is that they applied for injunction in Amuru but our eviction is taking place in Adjumani District,” Mr Obong said. Although the residents claim that Apaa is their ancestral land, UWA says the area is gazetted for wildlife and is in Adjumani.

The assistant Inspector of Police, Mr Grace Turyagumanawe, is overseeing the eviction that started last Thursday and is being effected by the army, police and game rangers.