My name is Opiyo O Freddie, from Amuru-Lamogi Old Boys & Girls’ Association ICT Centre installed by BOSCO Uganda.
Back in 2008 when Peace started to prevail in the Region ,People moved from the Major camps into mini camps and later others proceeded back to their original homeland from various camps in Northern Uganda, but in some areas Land wrangles erupted with reasons from different source claims. Take for this case Amuru District, Apar Village and Lakang sub-county as areas of interest which has been experiencing major land problems since the re-settlements though other minimal family disputes and clans disputes were throughout Amuru District .
Apar Village is Located North-East of the District Amuru and bordered by Adjumani from the South-East, a very small village but quite a number of the population inhabits that village. The main activities of these people mainly are farming and sometimes Charcoal burning and of recent, Hunting. The village is reachable through a main Road from Amuru trading Centre in Amuru sub-county via Ober-Abic and Apar to Adjumani district.
Early Last year (2015) conflicts eroded with few reasons on the table of claims for why the people wrangle;
First of all Politically influential words on the claims that the Government wants to re-demarcates the area, others say the Leaders cooked it up by saying that the areas was in subject to amalgamation to Adjumani District. A source also says the area was sold to a white Man whose name was only known as Bruce. Furthermore some anonymous source said that one of the leader told the community that there was eviction to be done on the people of Apar village and hence these were the foundation of the conflict.
Greatly also the bad example displayed by the Political Leader by actively and physically involving themselves in the Act of the conflict take for example, the Male Member of Parliament of Kilak county majorly caused the Conflict. There was no consultation made to the grassroots or Land owners and hence making them ignorant on what was happening in their community.
There was as well deep Involvement of Security officers (Army) before the conflict sparked off with people as the community thought that what their leaders said were right.
Lakang Sub-county Madhvani sugar Factory Issue;
Lakang is a Slightly a new sub-county within Amuru District which started to be well known during the 2014 National ID project (Mass enrollment exercise) as one of the Sub-county but before was part of Amuru Sub-county. This sub-county is Located West of Amuru District Bordering the River Nile from the East and Stretching to part of Nwoya District from the North. It’s also reachable like Apar village with the Main road from Amuru town council (Otwee) along Lujoro Primary school via Omer 1 which is the border of the sub-county and Amuru sub-county.
The Major causes of these conflict were not far from those of Apar village only that for Lakang had a slight difference in that; that people were furies about the claims that they were encroaching into the Game reserves and must have to quit the areas for those who had already settled there.
And there was also tribal conflict between the Acholi and Lugwara with the Lugwara claiming that they owned the Land basing themselves on our former president of the country (RIP IDI AMIN DADA Era) who took power and made them occupy the area and made it theirs before leaving power in 1979.
More so; Acholi as a tribe has series of clans and hence all of them wanted a portion for this dormant land and this causes riots when others refused to allow other clans but only in favor of their clans members. For instance Lamogi and Pabbo were the main inhabitance of the land at that time.
Later on, Madhvani sugar factory pops in, as you can see it sounds developmental issues and you might think ignorance blinded the people of that Area but I say NO just only one reason which was well explained in Apar Land conflict and that is Poor communication from the political leaders and Clan leaders (Rwot) to the land owners/ Communities.
Generally those two areas were not the only areas but there are other smaller causes of this land conflicts which exists in different communities in the district as a whole.
One of the causes of this conflict is Self interest; these interests can widely be explained as it covers all categories of people. For instance Palema village which is located after Omer 1 village had a vigorous resistance when only one white man wanted the whole area for his Farm after the area was sold to him by unknown family.
It might be of Nature but children is a Choice of how many to have, but the contrary exist in my area of Amuru District or Even in Acholi as people dwells in saying that” small family no security” and that “having many wives shows a man’s strength “hence over producing and later when the man dies, the whole family gets to disputes over the small piece of land left behind by the deceased.
Quick money business: There is also rampant sell of Land among the community and this is because the nature of ownership of the Land does not protect the Land owner but instead expose them and that is the land is owned by the Clan.
To say also, other family takes the advantage of their wealth in terms of money and tends to grab the weaker families’ land eying courtship where they can easily use money to buy evidence and win court hence sparking off conflicts.
More so, Long term enmity created by the grandfathers of some family still cost this land conflicts as one would not wish to be dominated by another family.
And last but not least, Place of interest has been roaring in the land especially on the claim of oil and Goal discovery in the land which is still a problem up to now.
For all those cause of the land conflicts in our land and area seen from Apar and Lakang with also other places, let us talk about what are some of the few solutions which can be set or put in place to solve this land disputes.
The first move can be by Organization of community dialogue and this will bring all issues from Family to Clan and hence solving this long sickness of land conflict.
Land committees and land boards needs to be formed and others existing oriented on the basic of handling land issues to make it easier to solve matters before court of Law which is straining the relationships among families, clans and even tribes in the community.
Education is very essential, therefore community needs to be sensitize on the related land issues to reduce high risk of land conflicts in the community and later issues that might arise.
Media influence a lot during any riots or conflicts, therefore media must have a communication that shape the community but not provokes thereby controlling rapid conflict spreads.
Community massage delivery must be re-organized as in many times we have seen politicians as the main people causing this conflicts by bringing wrong information to the community and this is not only for political leaders but even some clans members boils up conflicts by faking information.
In case of any conflicts, reports must be quick and clear to the police for quick and un-bias action on the case as well as for security purposes in the community affected by the conflict.
Resettlement is a better option in case a displacement due to developmental factor which affected a community and must be in favor of the community likes and needs. More so the right people must be chosen to benefits not favoring in any way of interest.
Fair courtship is every body’s wish and therefore, there must be improvement in the court of law ruling in land cases in Uganda today to help reduce land conflicts. In most cases the poor communities and families always complains about the ruling.
No force must be use but can be used when the resistance on a matter which you know is right on your side has erupted and if not, No army or armed men should be involve either in dialogue or other meeting to let the community be free to express their opinions without fear.
Changing the Land ownership system from Clan to individual or family can best fit this area and secures its calmness in conflicts over land.
And last but not least, Enforcement of bylaws to reduce the un- reasonable sale of land by the different communities, families and individuals or even clans to wipe out these conflicts in our land. As per this, I request the Government intervention in handling issues in our land to avoid continues bloodshed.