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State House blocks soldier’s move to evict 246 residents in Nwoya

Aggrieved land owners stand at the disputed 5,000 acre piece land in Lebngec Parish in Nwoya district. Courtesy photo

Nwoya, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Although an army political commissar is expected to faster good relations between the military and the public, a UPDF captain who plays that role in Northern Uganda has been accused of cruelly evicting citizens from land they have been on for years thereby depriving them of their livelihood.

The Directorate of Lands at State House has now stopped the eviction of the 246 residents of Lebngec Parish in Lungulu sub county, Nwoya district.

The affected residents who are living on 5,000 hectares of land claim they have been under constant threats, torture and intimidation by Capt. Emmanuel Lukechi Luger, a Uganda People Defense Force – UPDF soldier who claims ownership of the land.

According to the aggrieved residents, Capt Luger, a UPDF political commissar attached to the 3rd Division Barracks in Moroto district had earlier evicted the residents from the public land which they people occupied in mid-2000, shortly after the phase out of the Internally Displaced People’s – IDP camps.

Upset by Capt. Luger’s alleged human rights violations, the community headed by Prof. Ogenga Otunnu petitioned President Museveni to restrain the officer from intimidating the locals, arresting them and deploying armed personnel in the area.

In the petition dated 21st February 2021, the disgruntled land owners pointed out that the officer has neither legal nor customary claim to the land he seized. They further asserted that in November 2020, Luger distributed eviction letters which have no legal bearing to the land ownership.

They further accused Luger of embarking on fencing the land and in the process terrorizing and torturing some of the residents notably, Justin Odongkara, Simon Tekkwo, and Amos Okello. The matter was reported to police in Nwoya, the RDC and UPDF 4th Division Commander but no justice was dispensed.

Santa Labol Lukone, a victim of the conflict accused Luger of seizing 500 hectares of her land including the theft of 40 chicken and 5 bags of maize. Benjamin Uma, another victim disclosed that his 800 hectares of land were grabbed by the soldier.

Prof. Ogenga Otunu, the lead petitioner (also a brother to Ambassador Dr. Olara Otunnu, the former UPC party president) similarly revealed they have lost 800 hectares that belonged to their late father Dr. Yusto Otunnu, to the officer.

Lebngec upper village area councilor, Francis Ojok Mulozi told URN that Capt. Luger has been forcefully evicting the land owners in the area using forged court orders since November 2020. However, Capt. Luger dismissed the allegations insisting the land rightfully belongs to him.

However on Thursday, Edward Ocheing Sunday, the Assistant Private Secretary to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on land matters convened a meeting with the warrying parties at the contested land and halted any expulsion of the occupants.

Ocheing directed Luger to desist from expelling the people on the land and advised those already evicted to re-occupy their land as government continues to investigate the case to find an amicable solution.



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