A renewed land dispute between the Jonam people and the Acholi of Nwoya District has left over 15 people critically injured and hospitalised following a fight that ensued over the weekend.
Trouble allegedly started when some elders of Jonam in Nebbi District were invited for a conflict resolution meeting by leaders of Nwoya District at Got Apwoyo, about six km East of River Nile.
Mr Charles Onyutha, one of the victims of the attack narrated from his hospital bed at Pakwach Health centre that: “We were still on our way when they ambushed us, they held bows and arrows while others held pangas which they used to cut us, all these wounds on my body are as a result of that.”
“All our boats we used for crossing the river were cut into pieces, some of them were even wearing army uniforms, even some of our team members whom we went with are still missing,” he narrated.
The Jonam claim the disputed land belongs to them and accuse the leadership of Nwoya of collaborating with locals in the area to sell off some of the pieces of the land.
The Chief of Jonam, Mr Madir Odongo, said: “Our land is 50km from the political boundary of River Nile because during LRA wars, we were forced to flee across the Western side of river Nile in Nebbi side but the land remained ours, they now don’t want us to return because they are busy selling it.”
Nebbi District Police Commander, Mr Onesmus Mwesigye, said one person had been arrested in connection with the bloody incident but stated that he would be transferred to Nwoya where the offence was committed.
The LC3 chairman for Pakwach Town Council, Mr Benson Oriema, appealed to government to help solve the conflict between the two communities before the matter escalated. The chairman of Nwoya District Mr Patrick Oryem condemned the violence urging the people to launch formal complaints about the incidents.
It is noted that over 800 people fled the disputed area during Lakwena, NRA Liberation war and Kony wars in the early 1980s. The land wrangle was then sparked off in 1999 when Nebbi leaders who were ridiculed by the return of war victims uprooted a signpost planted by then Gulu leaders at Yago Pino across Albert Nile that the land in dispute is part of Gulu not Nebbi. Then the leaders issued a 14 day ultimatum to the people to vacate the land.