Thursday July 17 2014

Government ordered to pay war claimants

Members of Lango War Claimants Association

Members of Lango War Claimants Association attend a court session in Lira Town recently. PHOTO BY BILL OKETCH 

By Bill Oketch

Lira-High Court in Lira District has ordered the government to compensate more than 63,000, war debt claimants for livestock lost during the two-decade insurgency in Lango sub-region.

The court also ordered the government to pay Shs5 million and 25 per cent interest to each claimant for general damages.

The war claimants under their umbrella body, Lango War Claimants Association, sued the government in 2010, demanding Shs1.2 trillion in compensation for livestock lost during the conflict.

The war claimants argue that the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) looted their animals during the constant wars in the region.

They argued in the suit that it was the responsibility of the government under the Constitution to provide security, protect lives and properties, but that government failed in its mandate.

In his ruling on Monday, Justice Simon Byamukama Mugenyi, said it was the responsibility of the government to protect the residents and their properties during the conflict, ordering the government to pay the claimants in cash.

Court valued each sheep and goat at Shs150,000, a pig at Shs250,000 and each cattle at Shs900,000.

Mr Moses Ogwang Adonyo, the coordinator of the war claimants association, said: “Justice has finally prevailed.” He added that they will follow up the issue of the payment with the government.

“Very soon we shall petition Parliament to help us process the payment and we also want to meet the President over the same,” Mr Ogwang told the Daily Monitor in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

In February 26, principal state witness, Maj Katsiime Muhamuka of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), told court that the UPDF soldiers did not participate in the looting of cattle in the north during the war.

However, Mr Adam Makmot Kibwanga of Makmot Kibwanga and Company Advocates, reported that the witness had no report to show that the claimants claim.