Former Tooro Premier Moves to Sue Govt For Land Grabbing

3703 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
Through his lawyer Solomon Webale Araali of KGN Advocates, Stephen Irumba accuses the government of grabbing 200 of his 500 acres of land in Rwentuha Sub County in Kyegegwa district and turning it into a refugee settlement area. In September last year, officials from the Ministry of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees started settling more than 100 families on the land, a move Irumba says is illegal. This was after the officials surveyed the land and claimed it belonged to the government.

Former Prime Minister of Tooro Kingdom, Stephen Irumba, has written to the Attorney General over what he calls government's illegal occupation of his land.
 
Through his lawyer Solomon Webale Araali of KGN Advocates, Irumba accuses the government of grabbing 200 of his 500 acres of land in Rwentuha Sub County in Kyegegwa district and turning it into a refugee settlement area.
 
In September last year, officials from the Ministry of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees started settling more than 100 families on the land, a move Irumba says is illegal.  This was after the officials surveyed the land and claimed it belonged to the government.
 
Displaying a copy of the land title, Irumba says that he acquired the land in 2003 when it was titled and registered.  He explains that he carried out due diligence to ensure that he was purchasing the land genuinely. 
 
//Cue in: "My land was surveyed...
Cue out: "...proper land title."//
 
Uganda Radio Network has seen a copy of the deed plan which shows that Irumba's land is outside the boundaries of Kyaka 1 refugee settlement.
 
Irumba says that he has been forced to take legal action against the government after several meetings with Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Hillary Onek, the Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees and his deputy Musa Ecweru have not yielded any success.
 
He explains that he has on several occasions been told that the matter will be resolved, but he is surprised more families are being settled on his farm.
 
//Cue in: "It have had over...
Cue out: "...the government is served."//
 
Irumba notes that following the encroachment on his land, twenty workers on his farm fled after they were threatened by the refugees. He also says that some of his livestock have died, others been stolen and trees cut down.
 
//Cue in: "What has happened…
Cue out: "...all have fled." //

Lawyer Webale says he served the Attorney General William Byaruhanga two weeks ago. Byaruhanga has yet to comment on the story. He was reportedly in a meeting when URN contacted him today.

Martin Owori, a Commissioner for Disaster Management in the Prime Minister's office, was cagey on the matter when contacted by URN. He, however, admits that he is aware of the matter and it's being discussed and the Ministry's position will be communicated to Irumba. 
  
Irumba served as Prime Minister of Tooro from 2006 until his removal by Omukama Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV in 2008.
  
Allegations of land grabbing come as the Uganda government struggles to resettle over one million refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
 
According to Minister Onek, the government land designated for refugees is limited and most of those areas are now occupied forcing authorities to cut back on the size of land given to refugee families.
 

 

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.