Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Democratic Party (DP) President Norbert Mao has launched a land rights campaign in the Acholi Sub Region.
The campaign seeks to defend the vulnerable, document land, offer legal and advisory services to the vulnerable people in the Acholi Sub-region as well as reclaim lands that have been fraudulently acquired from their owners by the government, investors, and people with selfish interests.
The initiative also intends to create awareness of land rights and policies in the country and rightful methods of acquisition in order to avoid landlessness and poverty among the people.
Mao, a former Member of Parliament Gulu Muncipality and Chairperson for the Gulu District said that he is disturbed by the struggles and plight of the people which is not being addressed but instead used for political gains.
Addressing journalists during the launch at the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) on Tuesday, Mao said that land in the Acholi Sub Region including Apaa Township in Amuru district, Aswa Ranch in Pader district, Maruzi Ranch in Apac district, and Lipan, Got Apwoyo in Nwoya district are under threats from the government, state agencies, powerful government officials and investors.
Mao who says that his intervention will base on the constitution and not politics explained that Acholi people are either being duped to sell off large chunks of lands cheaply or forced to vacate and surrender under the watch of security personnel.
He said that the people have lost trust in their leaders due to political greed and selfishness noting that he will fight from a point of knowledge, publish a book on land rights and laws, create a proactive nonpartisan team, develop networks, seek foreign aid and work in solidarity with other sub-regions and develop a strategic direction.
He disclosed that his team will compose influencers and experts as well as members of the community.
Mao`s intervention comes at a time when the Acholi Sub Region is battling numerous land conflicts with the government, private investors, tribes, and powerful individuals.
They include the Apaa land conflicts between Madi of Adjumani district and Acholi of Amuru district as well as the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and National Forestry Authority (NFA), Aswa Ranch in Pader, Maruzi Ranch in Apac, and the issues of the balalo herdsmen who have invaded the Acholi land in a purported search for grazing lands.
Speaking on Apaa land conflict, Mao said that he is already drafting proposals to present to President Museveni which among them include rescinding the survey and boundary opening by the government which he described as an illegal act, the community being involved at the center of solving the problems, need for mediators in the conflicts, demand for justice for the people of Apaa and tasking the government to be neutral in the land matter.
Rwot Collins Atiko Muttu II, of Patiko Clan on the other hand decried the fast pace at which the Acholi people are fraudulently losing their lands and continuously drowning in abject poverty instead of developing.