Butiaba, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 1,000 families in two villages in Butiaba Town council in Buliisa district are living in fear of being evicted forcefully from their ancestral land.
The affected families are from Watembo and Boma villages in Butiaba town council.
The scared residents are facing off with Francis Kaahwa, a businessman in Buliisa and Kampala who is said to have illegally acquired a title for the contested land measuring about 1,800 hectares.
The affected residents say they learnt about Kaahwa’s land title in 2019 and wondered how he came to acquire title on their land that they have settled on since 1960s.
The residents say Kaahwa has severally threatened to forcefully evict them from their ancestral land yet they have nowhere to go.
The residents also explained that to prove that the said land belongs to them, in 2003, they offered part of the ancestral land to President Museveni after he asked them to allow him and the government to establish Watembo army barracks.
Deo Ntakimanyi, the Boma LCI Chairperson wonders how Kaahwa acquired the title for the land without his consent as the village chairperson, saying they will not allow their land to be taken.
He wants the government to intervene and investigate how Kaahwa fraudulently acquired the land title that he wants to use to evict them.
Sam Musalosalo, a resident of Wantembo village says he and others are ready to defend their ancestral land from being grabbed. He wants Kaahwa to produce genuine documents signed by area residents that allowed him to take over the management of the entire 1,800 hectares of land that belong to the locals.
Sarah Alinda, a mother of five says she has nowhere to go since her grandparents settled on the land since 1970s. She wants the Minister of Lands to come on ground and address the issue immediately.
Tabu Magambo 65, a resident of Watembo who has lived on the contested piece of land for more than 60 years, says that he was surprised when Kaahwa together with men dressed in uniforms similar to those of the UPDF in December last year raided the area claiming their entire piece of land.
Rose Katusiime,a resident of Boma village wants the government to compensate Kaahwa and let them freely settle on their ancestral land.
Moses Asaba, the LCIII Chairperson Butiaba town council says the situation is currently out of hand, calling on the government to intervene immediately since the residents have nowhere to go apart from settling on their ancestral land.
When contacted, Kaahwa explained that he is the rightful owner of the said land adding that he genuinely acquired the title and has all documents related to the acquisition of the said land.
This is not the first time Kaahwa is being implicated in land grabbing in in Bullisa and Hoima districts.
In 2019, More than 500 families at Waaki landing site in Kibiro parish in Kigorobya Sub County in Hoima district accused Kaahwa of trying to forcefully evict them from their ancestral land measuring over 2,000 hectares.
In 2019, More than 500 families at Waaki landing site in Kibiro parish in Kigorobya Sub County in Hoima district accused Kaahwa of trying to forcefully evict them from their ancestral land measuring over 2000 hectares.
According to the residents, Kaahwa had a title covering 806 hectares in the neighboring Kakoma Burwe village but he wanted to use it to forcefully grab their land in the neighboring area.
They accused Police and Uganda Peoples Defense Forces officers of allegedly conniving with Kaahwa to scare them off their land.
President Museveni while in Bunyoro last week for the commissioning of oil roads, tasked the prime minister Robinah Nabbanja to intervene in the escalating land grabbing issues in the region and immediately give him a report so that the land grabbers are dealt with once and for all.
In April last year, leaders in Bunyoro sub-region raised a red flag over the increasing existence of fraudulent land titles in the Bunyoro sub-region.
According to the leaders, many land titles in the region were acquired fraudulently hence putting residents on the verge of being evicted from their ancestral land.
The leaders appealed to the Lands Ministry to intervene and cancel all the titles acquired fraudulently.
Several brutal and forceful evictions have taken place in the Bunyoro sub-region since 2014.
In February 2019 more than 500 families were evicted from their ancestral land in Kyabisagazi I and Kyabisagazi II villages in Kigorobya sub-county Hoima district.
Four people were killed during the eviction by armed men in uniforms similar to those of the Uganda Peoples Defense forces and the Anti-riot police.
The contested land measuring 485 acres was at the centre of a dispute between Edgar Agaba, a businessman in Hoima town and more than 500 families.
To date, the evicted people remain displaced.