Acholi MPs sue Madhvani and kingdom over land giveaway

Thursday September 9 2010

By James Eriku

A fresh wrangle has emerged between MPs, Acholi Kingdom, and the police over land in Amuru District that has allegedly been given to Madhvani Group of Companies for sugarcane growing.

The MPs said they have lodged a legal suit against the Madhvani Group, the Acholi Ker Kwaro and the police in Gulu High Court over last Thursday’s clashes that they said left many locals in disarray.

The MPs, Mr Michael Nyeko Ochula of Kilak County in Amuru District and Mr David Pentyoo of Gulu Municipality, accused the Acholi cultural institution headed by Rwot David Onen Achana of giving away over 10,000 acres of land in Lakang in Amuru to the Madhvani Group without the people’s consent.

“Ker Kwaro Acholi is now a conduit in the land saga in Acholi, we shall not allow this,” Mr Ochula, said on Tuesday during a press briefing in Gulu Town.

“The king should come out openly to resist any attempt to defraud people of their land but in Acholi the king instead gives away the land,” he added.

The remarks follow an incident last week where residents of Lakang in Amuru blockaded the road and smashed the windscreen of vehicles of Madhvani officials who had gone to the area to assess the land allegedly offered to them for sugarcane growing by the traditional chiefs.

The officials were rescued by the police who shot in the air to disperse the rioters.
He said the Acholi Land Protection Committee has been established to ensure that land belonging to the people is not given to investors without their consent.

“We are not against giving land for investment but we want proper procedures to be followed. Where possible, they should rent the lands for now,” Mr Penytho said.
But the Prime Minister of the Acholi Ker-Kwaro, Mr Kenneth Oketa, said his kingdom was not involved in the land give away.

“We only advise the people on such issues but we don’t sell people’s land,” Mr Oketta said.
“The over 40 canisters from the scene are our evidences that we shall produce in court soon” Mr Penytoo said.
Police speaks
However, the Amuru District Police Commander, Mr Jacinto Ovuru, said the police only intervened to rescue the Madhvani officials from the irate mob.

The High Court in Gulu, about two years ago placed a court injunction on any land transactions in Amuru following a complaint lodged by the MPs that the government was using companies to take away their constituents’ land.