The purchase of 10,000 hectares of land by Army Member of Parliament, Major General Julius Oketta, has angered residents of Palyec Parish in Amuru district. The residents accused Oketta of stealing their land and want immediate intervention to save them from exploitation.
The residents, who are more than 400 in number, have handed a signed petition to the secretary of the Amuru Land Board. In the petition, they say that the land at Omee was illegally acquired because it is communal land that is jointly owned by hundreds of families.
Among the petitioners are the traditional chiefs of the Pagak, Parabongo and Toro Acholi clans. The group claims that on Monday last week Oketaa used armed uniformed soldiers to threaten the residents and to intimidate them as he surveyed the property. They say one soldier assaulted a resident, Twol Oyet, by beating him with the butt of his gun.
A case against the soldier has been instituted at Amuru Police Station under case file CRB 343/2008. Despite his, the regional CID boss, Vincent Ouma, denies any knowledge of the case.
The area Uganda People's Defence Force authorities have also refused to comment on the claims of harassment by Major General Oketta. The 4th Division spokesperson in Gulu, Ronald Kakurungu, says he has not yet heard of the case.
Tomorrow, the Amuru Land Board will meet to discuss the petition by the Palyec residents. The meeting is expected to be attended by the three traditional chiefs, Andrea Binyi Pesa II, Akileo Ojara and Faustino Okello. Major General Oketta is also expected to present his defence at the meeting.