Armed men deny 500 locals access to homes
What you need to know:
The tenants have been living on the land that measures about 2,545 acres since the 1960s
More than 500 residents in Hoima District, who had been evicted from a disputed piece of land, have been blocked from accessing their homes despite a minister’s order.
Last month, Lands minister Judith Nabakooba halted the eviction and ordered district officials to resettle the locals in the land as the government continues to investigate the matter.
But the residents, who are mainly pastoralists, say they were blocked by security guards, who are currently deployed on the land, allegedly owned by one of the landlords, Mr Gafayo Ndahura.
The locals accuse Mr Ndahura and six others of brutally evicting them, and destroying their houses and properties on February 10. They claim to have been staying on the land that measures 2,545 acres and covers Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties since the 1960s.
Mr James Asiimwe, one of the affected residents, said their lives are at risk.
“The Minister of Lands directed that we should go back to our land, but our leaders have declined to implement the minister’s orders. We are now sleeping with our relatives because our houses were burnt. We appeal to the government to come and settle this matter,” he said on Wednesday.
The Hoima Resident District Commissioner, Mr Rodger Mbabazi, declined to answer our phone calls.
Mr Ndahura said they are waiting for the courts of law to rule on the matter.
“It’s true some people should return to the land, but we refused them because they don’t own any piece of land. The minister was asked to put his directive into writing and she refused and the district security team had nowhere to start from. The minister has no power to make [declarations] people go back to the land, it is the court,” he said.
Mr Ndahura said he filed an intention to sue the Minister of Lands and the district security team.
He added that they acquired the land title in 2008 and since 2010, the locals were renting it, but “in 2020, they refused to renew their tenancy agreement’’.
“We started the process of acquiring the land title in 2004 and we got it in 2008. We have a land tenancy agreement and documents where they [locals] have applied to us to renew their agreement, which we refused because we also wanted to start using our land,” he said.
Mr Ndahura said from June to December last year, they were denied access to their land by tenants. “We reported cases of assault to police and some people have been arrested,’’ he added.
On February 10, locals were evicted from the disputed land in Hoima District. The affected residents were evicted from the villages of Waaki North, Kapapi Central, Waaki South and Kiryateteon in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties.
On February 22, Ms Nabakooba made a visit to the disputed land and met the affected residents at Rukola Primary School in Rukola Village, Kapapi Sub-county. It was resolved that the eviction was rushed and wrongly done.
“The exercise of eviction was done illegally, there was no court order and it was at night, which means the exercise was illegal and these people currently have nowhere to stay; they are just moving around. I have visited the area and realised that their plots can be identified. I have directed the security committee that these people return to the land,” Ms Nabakooba said.