Security intervenes in Aler farm land saga
What you need to know:
- The district security committee has halted farming activities on the contested land.
- The disputed land measures about 1,500 acres.
The Lira District security committee has intervened in a land conflict involving two groups of farmers claiming ownership of government land at Aler Ward, Lira City East Division in Lira District.
Last week, the groups armed with spears and machetes attacked each other over the land.
The first group allegedly burnt down pine tree plantations belonging to a member of the second group prompting the security committee to convene a meeting to defuse the tension.
During a security meeting on Monday, locals who have been farming on the disputed land were directed not to touch it for at least two weeks as members of the two groups were made to sit separately.
The Lira Resident City Commissioner, Mr Lawrence Egole, who is also the head of security, said the locals are free to harvest their crops but not to cultivate the land unless the dispute is settled.
The disputed land measuring about 1,500 acres covers part of Lira and Kole districts. It falls under 10 villages of Te-Arie, Oribcing, Opimo, Te-dam, Okii, Aler, Perac, Atira, Acan-akwo and Akwara.
On August 29, 2018, Mr Tom Ogwal Atocon and 331 others sought court intervention in the matter when Lira District leadership issued an eviction order.
On September 11, 2018, Justice Alex Macky Ajiji, the then High Court resident judge, ruled in favour of the applicants.
And court has since restrained the respondent (Lira District) from interfering with the quiet enjoyment of the suit land.
However, in December last year, 191 residents went to court claiming they are not part of the first group that went to court and that their names were included without their consent.
The second group accused the first of sabotaging government programmes yet they are residents of Ogur Sub-county.
They argue that since the contested land is now located in the present Lira City, the first group should not interfere with any developments coming to the area.
In 2011, one of the groups, took Lira District to court claiming ownership of the same land.
Mr Adams Kakaire Mulondo, the Lira District police commander, said nobody had been evicted from the Aler farm land but security intervened because the two sides had armed themselves and were attacking each other.
“Within two weeks, we shall come back to tell you what we have got from the other side. We need to see that this problem is solved,” Mr Mulondo told the more than 3,000 affected persons that attended the meeting.
Mr Kakaire said he received a letter from police headquarters directing them to ensure that peace prevails.
“So we can’t see you attack each other and leave you to continue. That is why we have invited you from the two sides with your leaders for consultation,” he added.
The Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Paul Mbiwa, said a group led by Mr Tom Ogwal Atocon and 331 others in 2018 sued Lira District.
Mr Mbiwa said although the district had a number of investments to be carried out on the disputed land many have since stalled because of the court injunction.
He cited the Madhvani Group, which had shown interest in investing on part of the land. He added that a solar company known as Xsabo Group had wanted to establish a multibillion shilling solar power generation plant to supply stable power to the city and the district council had approved the proposal to allocate about 200 acres of land for the project.
Mr Isaac Ojok, a lawyer representing the first group led by Mr Ogwal Atocon, cautioned his client against violence.
Ms Sarah Akany, a lawyer representing the second group, cautioned her client too against giving false reports to security. She said there are about 10 false cases that had been reported to police.
The Lira District vice chairman, Mr George Okello Ayo, said 46 years ago, the land belonged to government and was called Aler Prison Farm.
Mr Okello Ayo, who is the mayor-elect of Lira City East Division, said the land reverted to Lira District from prisons and the district has its land title.