Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Acholi Muslim districts have lost more than 2,800 acres of land to encroachers since the overthrow of President Iddi Amin Dada in 1979, according to Acholi district Khadi Sheikh Musa Khelil.
Sheikh Khelil says that their institutional land was abandoned by the Muslims when Amin’s government was toppled, and many of them went into exile for fear of political persecution by the UPC government led by Apollo Milton Obote.
Khelil said some of the properties that belonged to the Muslim fraternity include land at Obiya Highland in Laroo that now hosts Gulu College School of Health Sciences, part of which was taken over by private individuals. The other is Layibi Central Primary School which was founded by Muslims in 1967, whose land has since been taken over by the government.
Sheik Khelil adds that the encroachment has over the years continued to clip their expansion projects in the districts of Kitgum, Pader, Agago, Amuru, Lamwo, Nwoya, Gulu and Omoro. Sheik Khelil further pointed out land in Pajule town council in Pader and Awer in Amuru districts which they have lost to government institutions and private developers.
Abdulaziz Hussein Abdullah, the Northern Uganda regional Sheikh that includes Acholi and Lango regions also observed that the numerous encroachments are acts of a cold war against the Muslim community coupled with impunity. He added that while the Muslim fraternity has been very peaceful in handling the land conflicts in the region, they continue to fraudulently lose land to encroachers.
As a way forward, the two leaders have appealed to devoted members to support ongoing efforts to acquire land titles for the remaining properties like cemeteries, schools and mosques.
They also rallied the Moslem community in the region to comply with standard operating procedures that were put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 and desist from immoral behaviours that are against the moral standards required by Allah as indicated in the Holy Quran book as they celebrate Eid-al-Fitr festival.
Eid al-Fitr is a three-day celebration that takes place at the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, at the start of Shawwal. The festival is a significant spell in Islam and allows families, loved ones and communities to come together and celebrate following a month of abstinence and dedication to Allah.