Court Halts Fresh Eviction of Amuru Residents

3120 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Court presided by Henry Twinomuhwezi, the Assistant Registrar Gulu High Court issued an interim order restraining attorney general, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Adjumani district local government from evicting the residents from the disputed area until the main suit is disposed on February 08th.

Gulu high court has halted the pending eviction of residents from the disputed boundary between Amuru and Adjumani districts. The affected are residents of Pabbo, Apaa and Labala villages along the disputed boundary.

The residents sought interim orders from Gulu High court on Wednesday afternoon restraining government, Adjumani district Local government and Uganda Wildlife Authority from proceeding with their impending eviction.
In their affidavits, residents contend that Adjumani district local government is claiming the villages as part of East Madi Game Reserve. They say Adjumani wants them to vacate the area to allow UWA to rehabilitate the game reserve. 

Henry Twinomuhwezi, the Assistant Registrar Gulu High Court issued an interim order restraining the Attorney general, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Adjumani district local government from evicting the residents from the disputed area until the main suit is disposed of in February. In his ruling, Twinomuhwezi said the application by residents has merit, saying they shouldn't be disturbed until the main application is heard.
 
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) was represented by Ali Luzinda and Chemonges Mongea Sabila. They asked Court to throw out the application, saying UWA has never been a party to any tribal conflict in Apaa. Tom Okello Obong, an assistant director in Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) told journalists after the ruling that they will wait for the main application.
 
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Obong says it is unfortunate that MP Akol and five others joined them in a suit they should have never been party to.
 
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The aggrieved residents were represented by lawyer Okello Oryem of Okello Oryem and Company Advocate. They told court in their affidavits that soldiers and Police have been deployed ahead of the eviction on February 05th to harass them until they leave the disputed area.
 
Their lawyer Okello Oryem said the presence of the armed forces guarding the sign post of Adjumani district local government is leading to ethnically motivated attacks against the Acholi community living in the area.
 
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The residents had filed the application on January 15th. Kilak North County Member of Parliament Anthony Akol says Police have since established a barrack at Adjumani entry point in preparation for the eviction.
 
He said the injunction should be respected until the main suit challenging the location of the boundary is heard by court. 
 
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Akol says homes of residents are frequently visited by armed groups of soldiers and Uganda Police numbering between five and ten asking them to voluntarily leave the area. He says they claim the area belongs to Uganda Wildlife Reserve.
 
Dispute between Adjumani district and Amuru district local government started in 2010 after Adjumani district council gazetted part of Apaa, Pabbo and Labala as East Madi Wildlife Reserve while residents of the area were still in camps for internally displaced persons. Amuru district council accuses Adjumani of overstepping its boundary. 
 
MP Akol says the dispute between Adjumani and Amuru has sucked in both Uganda Wildlife Authority and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) as well. He says soldiers deployed on October 13th when Tom Butime handed the disputed area to Adjumani district have refused to vacate the area.
 
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Government later leased the area to Martin Bruce, a South African tourism operator for establishment of a controlled hunting ground. In 2012, the area descended into chaos as UWA attempted to evict residents who had settled in the area. Since then, several lives have been lost and properties destroyed in the inter district boundary. 
 
Court is set to rule on the main suit by Amuru district local government challenging the location of the boundary on February 08th.  
 

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.