Controversy is brewing over ownership of the land in Buliisa district, which was left behind by evicted pastoralists. This comes just two days after the land was officially handed over to the district land board.
Controversy is brewing over ownership of the land in Buliisa district, which was left behind by evicted pastoralists.
This comes just two days after the land was officially handed over to the district land board.
The land under contention is estimated to be over 100 hectares covering the villages of Waiga, Kataleba, Kichoke, Kigoya and Kabolwa all in Bugana and Kigwera parishes in Buliisa Sub County.
After the eviction of hundreds of pastoralists that illegally occupied the land in December last year, it was left in the hands of the district security committee that eventually put it under tight police guard until Tuesday, when the district land board assumed its control.
However, at the time of the handover, members of Byamani Group Farm, a cotton growing group that claims part of the land handed in a petition protesting the decision. The group faulted the district security committee for handing over the land to the district land board yet it has original owners.
Francis Barugahara, the secretary to the group who handed in the petition says land is only handed over to the land board when it has no owners, which was not necessary in this case. Barugahara says this was done in contravention of a court ruling that the land reverts to the original owners after pastoralists' eviction. According to him, the group used the land for growing cotton and other crops before the invasion of the pastoralists in 2004 that eventually forced them out of the land as cattle continuously destroyed their crops.
The group demands that the land that belongs to them should have been handed to them other than the district land board. Barugahara maintains that its only public land that should be under control of the district land board but not private land.
The group however, does not state the size of the land they demand neither do they have a land title.
Buliisa Resident District Commissioner Florence Beyunga welcomes the petition saying it’s not her duty to give out land but rather the district land board. Beyunga says as the chairperson security committee that has been taking care of the land to keep away any encroachers, she was duty bound to hand it over to a recognized local government land institution not individuals. She says the district land board will see how to go about such land demands.
But Michael Sabiiti, the chairman Buliisa district land board says the huge chunk of land that covers five villages is now public land under the district local government. Sabiiti says those claiming to have been original owners should show proof and apply to the land board as procedure demands. He says there are so many people that have come out claiming the same land and unless the claimants show land titles no one will have an offer.
The land fell vacant after the eviction of pastoralists last year. The group was evicted after they lost a court case filed against government seeking to block their eviction from the Bugungu communal agricultural land.
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