UGANDA: LEGISLATOR WARNS LAND’S MINISTER AND BROKERS OVER AMURU LAND GRABBING

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Member of Parliament for Kilak South constituency addressing members of the press at NUMEC on minister of Land’s visit to Amuru over government intention to evict locals from a contested swath of land.

“As the leadership of Amuru district, we shall never accept this kind of nonsense. We are very clear that if you want to invest in Amuru, you need to come and negotiate with the land owners directly. Instead of Madvhani coming to negotiate terms with land owners in Amuru, they are the ones taking charge. They have become mere land brokers”,.

GULU-UGANDA: The Member of Parliament for Kilak South Constituency in northern Uganda, Mr. Gilbert Olanya, has issued a strong warning to the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Betty Amongi and other land brokers, to desist from threatening the locals of Lakang village in Amuru district with eviction using court orders from their ancestral land on behalf of Madvhani.  The company wants the 10,000 hectares of land located at Lakang village, Amuru district, for sugar cane growing and a sugar factory on the contested piece of land.

“As the leadership of Amuru district, we shall never accept this kind of nonsense. We are very clear that if you want to invest in Amuru, you need to come and negotiate with the land owners directly. Instead of Madvhani coming to negotiate terms with land owners in Amuru, they are the ones taking charge. They have become mere land brokers”, says the legislator on November 14, 2016, during a press briefing at the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) in Gulu town.

Mr. Olanya says the people of Amuru who are affected by the move, will never be intimidated or surrender their land without adequate compensation. He says the minister should not have issued deadlines and warned that God will punish all those who try to forcefully grab land in Amuru.

“Are you going to compensate our people? Are you going to get them land elsewhere? If they want to come with their guns and bullets, let them come and they will meet us in Amuru. We shall never allow our people to suffer or go back to concentration camps (Internally Displaced Person’s Camps -IDP) as it was during the over two-decade conflict”.

In 2015, a group of leaders and elders led by Mr. Michael Ochulla (former legislator), Mr. David Penytoo (former legislator) and one Mr. Jack Oballim, signed a memorandum of understanding with President Yoweri Museveni purportedly leasing out 10,000 hectares of community land in Lakang village in Amuru district to Madvhani Group of Companies for sugar cane growing there without the knowledge of land owners. The move has since turned controversial and highly politicized.

“Madvhani has failed to get the land in Amuru since 2008 because of poor, useless and foolish approach. Instead of Madvhani coming to negotiate directly with land owners, they go to State House instead; who, in turn, send operatives to intimidate and threaten people. If they want Madvhani to get land in Amuru, let them send him to the land owners”, says Mr. Olanya.

He describes the agreement signed between President Yoweri Museveni and some leaders from Amuru in 2015 as “useless” and “total madness”, saying the local community will not go by that agreement because it was not signed in the interest of the people of Amuru.

“If you follow it chronologically; after signing that agreement, Michael Ochulla decided to join the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party of President Museveni. That was foolish and total madness. That agreement was totally useless. It was not in the interest of our people”, says Olanya.

According to Mr. Michael Lakony, the Amuru local government chairman, Minister Amongi has no prerogative to issue deadlines to the people of Amuru since the issue of Madvhani request for land in Amuru has been “out of Court settlement”.

“In Uganda, we have free economy to the extent that when Madvhani needs land, he should go to the community and negotiate directly. They should recognize that land belongs to the community. It is only then that they can take that decision to court to allow “Court of Appeal” to sanction it and register it as deed of “Out of Court Settlement”. If they use violence then, the project will not be sustainable”, says Lakony.

Mr. Lakony reveals that two-third of the land being sought by government in Lakang, has already been sold off to other investors and individuals.

”They have already sold away their land. The initial people who went and occupied Lakang and Kololo are now not the ones on the land. Two-third of them are different people. We need to sit down and harmonize on our stand on the next step of movement, including other prominent sons and daughters of Lamogi”, says Lakony.

 

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