Hoima, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 1,000 families who are threatened with eviction from their ancestral land in Watembo and Boma villages in Buliisa district are pleading for the intervention of President Yoweri Museveni to save them.
The residents are facing off with businessman Francis Kaahwa, who is said to have illegally acquired a title for the contested land measuring about 1,800 hectares. The residents say that they learnt about the transaction in 2019 and wondered how Kaahwa acquired a title on the land that many of them have occupied since the 1960s.
They explained that they offered a part of the same land to President Museveni in 2003 to establish the Watembo army barracks. Although Kaahwa has maintained that he is the rightful owner of the said land and that he genuinely acquired the title and all documents related to the acquisition, the residents are appealing to the President to stop him and halt the eviction.
Night Asiimwe, 60, one of the affected residents says they have approached several offices to help them guard their land against being grabbed but were accorded no help. Similarly, Joseph Tibenda, who has settled on the land since 1960 says that only President Museveni can prevent their land from being grabbed.
Sam Musalosalo, a resident of Watembo village says that they are likely to lose the battle to defend their land since Kaahwa is highly connected to top government officials whom he is using to manoeuvre his way to grab their land.
Jacob Mutiti, a resident of Booma village wants President Museveni to institute a committee to investigate the rampant land grabbing cases in Buliisa.
Buliisa District Chairperson Fred Lukumu also believes that only the president can stop Kaahwa and solve the land grabbing and evictions of innocent people in Buliisa.
Allan Atugonza, the Buliisa County Member of Parliament says the government should give special attention to Buliisa and the entire Bunyoro sub-region where several families have been threatened with eviction and others brutally evicted from their ancestral land following the discovery of oil in the region.
This is not the first time Kaahwa is being implicated in land grabbing in Buliisa and Hoima districts. In 2019, More than 500 families at Waaki Landing Site in Kigorobya Sub County, Hoima district accused Kaahwa of trying to forcefully evict them from their ancestral land measuring over 2,000 hectares.
According to the residents, Kaahwa had a title covering 806 hectares in the neighbouring Kakoma Burwe village but wanted to use it to forcefully grab their land in the neighbouring area. They accused Police and Uganda Peoples Defense Forces UPDF officers of allegedly conniving with Kaahwa to scare them off their land.