Bukedea, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A section of residents forcefully evicted from the contested land in Amujeju village in Kamutur Sub County in Bukedea district are accusing their leaders of fueling conflicts and abetting their eviction.
There is a dispute between Kamutur and Kambarwa sub counties on who owns the disputed land measuring more than 2000 acres in Amujeju village. Various attempts by the district and the Lands Ministry to reconcile the two sub counties for the past two and half years failed to yield results.
On May 4th, 2019, a group of people raided Amujeju village in Amujeju Parish in Kamtur Sub County and allegedly beat up residents, raped women, destroyed their crops and houses and evicted them from their homes.
After the eviction, the Lands Housing and Urban Development Ministry wrote to Bukedea Chief Administrative Officer on May 21, 2019 about opening the disputed boundary. According to the victims, those who attacked them were led by the Kamutur Sub county LCIII chairperson and a UPDF soldier identified as Col. Michael Shimanya, a resident of the area.
Residents claim that while being evicting, the attackers told them they were working on orders. Residents accuse the Bukedea Woman Member of Parliament, Anita Among, LC V Chairperson Moses Olemukan, the Kamutur Sub county Councilor LC III Chairperson, Deputy Resident District Commissioner and District Police Commander among others.
Residents accuse Police for failing to arrest those who forcefully evicted them from their land and committed all sorts of crime against them. A district Intelligence Committee meeting that was held on May 05, 2019 resolved that police arrests the ring leaders of the attack but this is yet to happen.
Haji Ramadhan Walugembe, the Bukedea District Resident Commissioner has since written to the presidency minister on the Police refusal to arrest the suspects who attacked the residents and destroyed their property.
“For reasons best known to them, police have not taken action on people believed to have caused all the havoc. This police attitude has annoyed the affected communities and intelligence has picked information of an errant attack in revenge because they fill betrayed, this likely to be bloody,” the RDC’s letter partly reads.
The Bukedea County Member of Parliament, John Bosco Ikojo also wrote to the Police Standards Unit on June 06, 2019 complaining about the police refusal to arrest and prosecute those who attacked the residents. “I have received several complaints from my constituency pertaining the action of the Uganda Police Force and in particular the District Police Commander,” the letter that URN has obtained reads.
He says there is a lot of arrogance, high handedness and uncontrolled actions of the police force and that cases reported are not attended to. He particularly cites the Amujeju incident where two communities of Kabarwa and Amujeju are contesting for land and cases of malicious damage of property; looting, arson and destruction of people’s crops were reported but were not attended to.
“The DPC because of the compromise around him refused to act because the interested leaders in the district had told him not to arrest anyone. This showed that there was an invisible hand in the entire criminal act and displacement of the families settled in the contested land” the letter further reads.
John Omongole, the LC I chairperson of Amujeju village, says the people who evicted residents from the land told them that Anita Among wanted the land to construct a state lodge and farm.
William Opolot, a resident of Amujeju, says they have been denied justice since they were evicted in May. He alleges that Col. Shimanya connived with district leaders to evict them from their land with intentions of grabbing it.
Charles Omoya, the LC II Chairperson Tokolo Parish in Kabarwa Sub County says that before the eviction there was a meeting involving all LC I chairpersons, District Councilor and Kamutur sub county LC III chairperson at Amujeju.
Police have since denied their involvement in the eviction and failure to act on the attackers. Michael Odongo, the East Kyoga Region Police Spokesperson told URN that Police couldn’t rush to arrest anyone since the eviction occurred at night. He also notes that the eviction victims delayed to report the matter.
Moses Olemukan, the Bukedea District LC V chairperson also dismissed the claims by residents, saying they are baseless.
Anita Among, the Bukedea Woman Member of Parliament termed the allegations as political.
“That is politics! Those residents don’t even know me. Which interest do I have on the land that has issues in court? I have never been to Amujeju itself how can someone say I want land in a wetland?” she asked.
She warned whoever is dragging her name into the land dispute, saying they will be dragged before court.