Oil finding fuels clashes

Monday June 2 2014

By Isaac Imaka

Thirty four people were injured last week after two groups, the Jonam and Acholi in Nwoya District clashed over land.
According to legislators from the district, the cause of the latest clashes is the discovery of oil in the area.
“People used to live amicably but the moment oil was discovered tension developed among the people and now we are seeing people clashing over land,” said Mr Richard Todwong, state minister without portfolio and Nwoya County MP.

“We have so many opportunists and speculators who are carving off land yet the lands have settlers,” he added.

Addressing the press on Friday, Nwoya District Woman MP Christine Achayo said on Wednesday, about 50 people fought with residents of Arero and more fighting was reported in Prongo Sub-county leaving scores injured and livestock and food looted.

“It is the speculation for oil that is causing all this suffering at the expense of the poor people who settled in the area yet historically the Jonam and the Acholi have been living together for long,” she said.

According to information at the Petroleum Exploration and Production department, Nwoya District is home to the largest quantity of crude oil so far discovered; estimated to be around 2 billion barrels out of the 3.5 billion barrels already discovered.

The oil is in the Murchison Falls National Game Park side of the northern Uganda district and is operated by Total E&P.
“It is expected that there is going to be more exploration and people are now trying to acquire land,” Todwong said.
He said the land ownership got messed during the two-decade LRA insurgency in the north.

“What we want as leaders is a situation where people who owned land be allowed to stay on it. Some people are taking advantage of the absence of land ownership to sell out land and rent out the rest for grazing,” he said.

Addressing the same press conference, junior minister for Internal Affairs James Baba said police had taken steps to stop the repeat of clashes.
Junior Finance minister Fred Omach also informed the press that government has “already sent a team” to verify the rightful owners of the land.