Apaa Land: Residents reject resettlement, compensation

Monday April 08 2019
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Talk. Some of the affected Apaa locals express their views during a meeting in November last year. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OKELLO

A section of residents occupying the disputed Apaa land bordering Amuru and Adjumani districts have rejected plans by the government to compensate and have them relocated.
Government claims residents encroached on 827Sq km of gazetted former East Madi Controlled hunting area in Adjumani District.

In February, Cabinet resolved to resettle victims of Apaa land conflict with building materials and money after assessing damages.
According to a Cabinet memorandum, residents were to be given a package of Shs10 million, 20 iron sheets, 20 bags of cement and Shs2 million for those who do not have National Identity Cards.
The processes of compensation and resettlement would be spear -headed by the Office of the Prime Minister, Lands ministry and Minister for Northern Uganda, Ms Grace Kwiyucwiny.

The affected residents, however, say they will not accept any form of compensation and forceful plans to evict them from their ancestral land.
Mr Sylvester Odoki, a resident of Acholi Ber Parish, says he totally disagrees with government plans to force them into accepting money and material benefits.
Mr Denis Komakech, another Apaa resident, says the recent Cabinet memorandum was wrong on disclosing that only 374 families occupy Apaa land.

Documents presented before Cabinet in February seen by this newspaper titled “The memorandum of Efforts to resolve the Apaa land conflict” indicated that 374 families occupy the land. A total of 206 were found to be non-violent and cooperative with government.
According to the document, only 71 family heads were found with national IDs as residents of Apaa Village, Labala parish, Pabbo Sub-county in Amuru between 2013 and 2014 before the 2017 declaration of the boundary.

However according to Mr Komakech, the information provided is inaccurate adding that more than 20,000 people are settling on the land.
Last month, the Acholi legislators under their Umbrella body, the Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG), rejected the compensation plans.
Mr Philip Okin Ojara, the APG chairperson, said the amount offered by government is too little for the residents to lose their land.
Dr Daniel Komakech, the Acholi committee chairperson on Apaa land conflict, said the Cabinet resolution was made without consent from the team selected to ensure a peaceful resolution.

Speaking during a meeting to discuss solutions on land conflict in Amuru and Nwoya districts at the Ker Kwaro Acholi Palace in Gulu Town on Thursday, Mr Komakech said the cabinet resolution was different from what they had discussed with the Prime Minister.
In August last year, President Museveni called for the formation of an eight member committee from both Adjumani and Acholi to discuss the recommendations on ending the Apaa land impasse. The committee was headed by the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.
However, in two meetings held between September and December last year and chaired by Dr Rugunda, the parties failed to harmonise on Mr Museveni’s earlier recommendations.