Army, residents bicker over land ownership

Residents of Akemokoch village in Pader Sub-county, Pader District have opposed a plan by UPDF to evict them from a piece of land, claiming they are the rightful owners.

The land in question is opposite the Achol Pii 5th Division Barracks where more than 25 traders have set up their business.

“We have been here since childhood, and our parents told us they lived on this land. How can the UPDF claim that this is their land?” Mr Santo Otima-Lit, a resident, asked.

Mr Otima-Lit said the army have always been encroaching on their land by cultivating on it.
He appealed to human rights activists and civil society to address their plight.

The village chairperson, Mr Mathew Onyach, told Daily Monitor that he was issued a letter signed by the 5th Division commander, Brig Samuel Kawagga, informing sub-county authorities to alert the public about the demolition of all structures erected by civilians in the market by Saturday.

The 5th Division spokesperson, Capt Telesphor Turyamumanya, however, refuted claims of land grabbing, saying the land is owned by the government of which the army are custodian.

“This plot to evict the locals and the traders is a security concern since the market structures lies within the vicinity of UPDF’s battle planning position grounds,” he said.

He added that erecting permanent structures on the land possess security threats to the military base since criminals can use the market structures as a shield of defence.

Original settlers
The army said the land in question was offered by the Office of the Prime Minister to the refugees from South Sudan in the 1960s and locals displaced by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the 1990s.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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