Friday May 2 2014

Councillor burnt alive in land clashes

Relatives of the former LC1 chairman, Mr Swaleh

Relatives of the former LC1 chairman, Mr Swaleh Songa, who was burnt during the land clashes. PHOTO BY Patrick Okaba 


Two people have been killed and more than 70 grass-thatched houses burnt in clashes at Warr Trading Centre in Zombo District.

The two-day fights between the Muslim and Christian communities of Warr was sparked off by a court ruling last week over the disputed land.
Police confirmed the dead as Swalleh Songa, the former LCI chairperson of Warr Offaka village, who was captured, locked up and burnt; and another resident Jenario Adotho was also killed.

The two communities have been wrangling over the piece of land for about a decade now. Court ruled in favour of the Muslim communities, sparking protests among the Christian communities resulting in the fighting.

An eye witness, Mr John Ogen, said the fighting was a gruesome experience as both sides used machetes, bows and arrows and stones. “I cannot believe that people should be divided over land yet many of us are related. It is not right to fight because land cannot get finished and when one dies, he/she would even leave it here,” he said.

The prime minister of the Ker-Alur, Dr Edwin Wathum Jalkwiyo, said the over 20 acres of land being claimed by the Muslim community is an exaggeration. He said the documents at the chiefdom indicate that they only gave 2 acres of land to the Asians in 1943.

The national delegate representing Muslims in Nebbi and Zombo, Mr Hassan Ringtho, said there was need to ensure peace and violence should stop. He urged the district leaders and kingdom officials to intervene in the matter of land between the two communities since the land issue started in 2002 with no positive results.

genesis of the wrangles
The land was allegedly given to Asians who settled at the trading centre by the Alur kingdom in 1943. The first judgment was in Feb 2013 with eviction order but was halted by the kingdom officials due to irregularities in the size of the land.