Community petitions judge in land eviction case

The residents are calling for court action. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The petition follows last year’s letter in which the Principal Judge directed the assistant registrar of Soroti High Court to brief  him about the file.

A total of 1,051 people have asked the Principal Judge, Dr Flavian Zeija, to take immediate action in an eviction case.
The locals sued seven parties, including the government and its officers for alleged eviction them from their land at Amejeju Village, Tokor Parish, Kabwara Sub-county in Bukedea District.

In a January 3 letter, the complainants allege that the case file has gone missing, causing them more worries about their next course of justice.

Through their lawyers, the complainants state that the case involves sensitive issues such as illegal evictions from their ancestral land, assault, burning of their homes, and looting of property, rape of some female complainants and murder of some of their relatives.

“Our clients allege that [ a government official] and other individuals are behind the evictions, and if their case file is not seen, this may prejudice them, abuse their right to property, abuse their right to a fair hearing, abuse their right to life,  all of which are enshrined under the Constitution,”  the petition reads  in part. 

The petition follows last year’s letter in which the Principal Judge directed the assistant registrar of Soroti High Court to brief  him about the file.

The case
In the case filed before the High Court in Soroti in 2020, a group of 15 people led by Alfred Edeke sued the Attorney General, the Inspector General of Police, the District Police Commander of Bukedea and the chairperson of Kamutur Sub-county, Mr Jackson Ojekede. Other accused persons are Michael Shimanya, Moses Bwayo, and Fred Ojepa.

It is alleged that in May 2019, Shimanya, Bwayo and Mr Ojekede in company of more than 100 people attacked 128 homes comprising more than 1, 051 people at Amujeju Village in Bukedea District and forced them to flee for their lives and have them migrated to live elsewhere in violation of their human rights.

The complainants allege that the three accused men and their accomplices destroyed their crops, household property, animals and that they were also assaulted, tortured in violation of their rights and in contravention of the Constitution.

“That the second and third (IGP and DPC of Bukedea) declined and investigate, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the atrocious actions of arson, rape, malicious damage to property, ... assault, trespass to land and illegal eviction, committed against the applicants and others in violation of their rights to equality before the law and their right to protection of their protection of their property,”  the complainants state.

In a sworn statement, Mr Edeke contends that as a result of the said criminal acts, each of the complainants incurred losses due to their houses being burnt, cattle and other properties looted and crops completely destroyed.

“That the respondents in total disregard of a court order, a group of about 200 people led by the 4th, 5th, and 6th respondents while armed with crude weapons among others machetes and spears entered upon the suit land, declaring that they came in the authority of the President of the Republic of Uganda and that the president had authorised the Woman MP of Bukedea District, Hon Anita Among to forcefully evict all the residents from the land to pave way for construction of a State House, army barracks and a farm,” he states.

He alleges that the government had been told by some leaders of the availability of the land for investment but without disclosing that they were the owners of the said land who had to be compensated.

Documents in court indicate that Hainan Qinfu Foods Co. Limited is interested in investing funds worth $450 million in Uganda and that the land in Bukedea was identified for the establishment of the proposed fishing company.