Govt hands over Apaa to Adjumani

Disputed. Residents of Apaa Ogali in Amuru Sub-county, Amuru District protest during a recent wrangle over the land. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • According to Mr Akol, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, ruled that there is need to carry out a fact-finding mission before a resolution is made.
  • The contested Apaa land covers 40 square kilometers. The recent clashes arose from the 2015 decision by the government to annex part of Pabbo Sub -county in Amuru District to Adjumani District, despite protests from Amuru leaders and residents.

AMURU. Tension has remained high along the disputed 40 Sq kilometres of Apaa land that is being claimed by residents in both Amuru and Adjumani districts.
At the weekend, Local Government Minister Tom Butime officially handed over Apaa to Adjumani District officials in Labala Parish under heavy security deployment.

Mr Butiime explained that the government’s decision to give away the disputed land to Adjumani was based on the 1958 map that was drawn before independence.
He said the Global Positioning System has been clear, adding that no boundaries have been manipulated to deprive Amuru District of the Apaa area.

In June, residents occupying the disputed Apaa land in Zoka Village, Adjumani District, majority of who are Acholi, were attacked by unknown people in an incident that claimed 10 lives, left 21 others severely wounded and more than 500 grass thatched huts torched.

More than 700 people were displaced in Amuru District, and 1,000 Madi people were displaced in the recent land fights.
Since 2012, Apaa has been a hotbed of violent clashes between the Acholi and Madi ethnic groups, with each claiming ownership of the strip of fertile piece of land that is estimated to be around 40 square miles.

But Mr Butiime, who was accompanied by his junior Minister Jennifer Namuyangu, last week, declared that the contested Apaa land is now part of Adjumani District and not Amuru District, as Amuru leaders have been claiming amid disagreements.

Others present were; Amuru RDC Bilak Jalmoro, Amuru deputy chairperson, John Bosco Ocan, Anthony Akol, Kilak North MP in Amuru District and his counterpart for Adjumani, Angel Mark Dulu and John Bayo Anyanzo, the Adjumani District vice chairperson.
“I am warning politicians from Amuru District against campaigning in Apaa areas since the place belongs to Adjumani District. We shall not tolerate that,” Mr Butiime warned.
He equally instructed the chief administrative officers for both Adjumani and Amuru districts to respect the government decision and work within their new boundaries.

The minister also asked religious and cultural leaders to preach peace between the two communities so as to inculcate the heart of tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
However, the demarcation did not go well with leaders in Amuru who accused Mr Butiime of intimidating the residents while handing over the land to Adjumani.

MP Akol protested the move and criticised the minister for intimidating the residents of Amuru over the boundaries issues.
“I am very disappointed with the whole move by the government to give away Apaa to Adjumani District without following the right procedures,” he said.

In April, Mr Akol raised the matter on the floor of Parliament and he expected that further consultations with both the leaders and the residents were going to be made before a final decision is reached.

According to Mr Akol, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, ruled that there is need to carry out a fact-finding mission before a resolution is made.
“The government has failed to investigate the circumstances under which people died in June. They are instead rushing to demarcate the land,” he said.
He maintained that he will raise the matter in Parliament again so that a ‘right’ path is followed.

Prime minister of Acholi Cultural Institution Ambrose Oola accused government of handing over the contested land to Adjumani District without consulting and investigating the recent killings in the area.
“It’s not all about the land. There are issues surrounding Apaa and such issues should have been dealt with before any business takes place,” he said.

Kilaka South MP Gilbert Olanya, who has also been fighting to ensure the contested Apaa land remains in Amuru District, said Mr Butiime was ‘forced’ to do what he did.
“As Acholi MPs under Acholi Parliamentary Group, we are not silent, we are monitoring whatever they are doing. The case is already in court and an injunction was issued but they have still gone ahead to give the land away.”

He warned Adjumani officials on the dangers of evicting the Acholi community in the contested land, adding that as leaders, they will not watch when their people are being intimidated.
Amuru District vice chairperson John Bosco Ocan expressed concern over intimidation of the local farmers from Amuru District by security forces.

“After the government made its pronouncement on Apaa land, it is most likely that the Madi ethnic group will chase away farmers, who own land in the area,” he said.

Apaa land
The contested Apaa land covers 40 square kilometers. The recent clashes arose from the 2015 decision by the government to annex part of Pabbo Sub -county in Amuru District to Adjumani District, despite protests from Amuru leaders and residents.

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