Connect with us

MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK

Government orders arrest of notorious land grabber in Mubende district.

Published

on

By Witness Radio team

The government of Uganda has ordered the Police in Mubende to oversee the arrest of a  land grabber in the Mubende district whose evictions have caused suffering to residents in Mubende for over a decade.

The Prime minister of Uganda, Rt Hon. Robina Nabbanja while meeting the affected residents at her home in Kakumiro district ordered the arrest of Milly Naava Namutebi and halted all activities carried out by a land grabber on people’s land. She further made it clear that all residents remain on their land till her visit to ascertain the true owner of the land.

For over a decade, Naava has been carrying out forced evictions in the area with the assistance of the area police which has rendered people homeless. People have lost land, lack food, children are not schooling and families have broken as a result of her unending violent evictions. Defenders have been framed and arrested, whereas others have been beaten in evictions.

Over 3.5 square miles belonging to 4000 residents have all been taken by the wealthy investor without consent from the owners.

Over 60 residents of Kirwanyi in Kiruma sub-county led by their Chairman Bangirana Innocent pitched camp at the Prime minister’s home in protest of the increased and violent evictions of Naava and her men and wanted the prime minister’s intervention to save them from being evicted.

According to the residents, Naava with the protection of police officers was harvesting people’s crops including maize claiming she wanted to use the land. The residents informed Witness Radio that they have been on the said land for generations and wonder how Naava came to own it.

One of the victims, Mr. Lubuuka Godfrey who had over 20 acres of maize told the Prime minister that casual laborers attached to Naava and guarded by the police officers slashed all his plantation and ordered him to leave the land immediately.

“I direct the District Police Commander (DPC) of Mubende and the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) to withdraw the four police officers guarding Naava, and thereafter arrest her for causing distress to the people.” The Rt Hon Prime minister said.

At least 30 houses and hundreds of hectares of crops especially maize were destroyed in the recent violent evictions, according to a community land rights defender, Mr. Ssesazi Christopher.

Naava has on several occasions been arrested and charged for violently evicting people without compensating or resettling them. In July 2022, Naava together with his people at large were arrested, arraigned before the magistrate court in Mubende, and charged with 20 counts including forgery, malicious damage, fraud, and criminal trespass among others.

The Rt Hon Prime minister’s order comes after Naava defied directives of not evicting people on land that were given by the Minister of Lands, Hon Judith Nabakooba. Last year, Nabakooba visited the affected communities and directed no further evictions citing investigations into the land ownership.

Continue Reading

MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK

A son of the community defender is shot dead, another critically injured in a retaliatory attack by security guards evicting locals off their land to give way to large-scale sugarcane growing.

Published

on

By Witness Radio team

Kiryandongo – Uganda. Security guards attached to Magnum Limited, a private security company employed by Somdiam Limited, have shot dead a son of a community land rights defender in Kiryandongo district and critically injured his second son, currently admitted in the hospital. Somdiam Limited, is owned by an Indian investor.

Somdiam contracted Magnum Limited in October 2023 to carry out illegal evictions in the villages such as Nyamuntende, Kikungulu, and Ndoi in the Kiryandongo sub-county in Kiryandongo district without a court order.

The same security company has a record of being hired and carryout in illegal land evictions and guarding grabbed lands. It is on record that Magnum security carried out another violent land eviction involving over 2500 locals in Kapapi in Hoima district to give way to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP).

Since 2020, Somdiam has been grabbing land for over 809.3700 hectares that have been lawfully occupied and cultivated by over 3000 locals. In the early 2000s, the locals applied for a freehold title, and eventually granted by the government.

According to records seen by Witness Radio, Somdiam Company was established in 2011 in Uganda and owned by two Indian nationals Mr. Dhedhi Himatbhai and Mrs. Dhedhi Hansaben Himatbhai.

One of its lawyers includes the former attorney general in the current Kampala government Mr. Mwesigwa Rukutana.

The company has branches in Rwanda, Tanzania, Madagascar, and the United Arab Emirates – Dubai primarily deals in importing various food commodities, including rice, sugar, vegetable cooking oil, biscuits, salt, tomato paste, powdered milk, pasta, and spaghetti, among others.

According to investigations by Witness Radio team, the killing happened on November 25th, 2023.

Kato Geoffrey, aged 20, one of the sons of Kaliisa Joseph, was shot in his back at 5:30 pm and passed away at the gate of Kiryandongo Hospital while being rushed for treatment. Another victim, Rugazu Steven, was shot in the thigh and is currently receiving treatment at Bweyale General Clinic.

Eyewitness accounts detail that the distressing events unfolded in Kisalanda Village, Kiryandongo district, when 10 Somdiam armed personnel, guarding Somdiam on orders of Isaac Balute, Somdiam Company manager, raided the residence of a community land rights defender, Kaliisa Joseph at Kisalanda with the intent of forcibly evicting him from his property in vain.

Joseph Kaliisa, a community land rights in the Kiryandongo district, has been actively engaged in mobilizing his community of more than 3000 residents to push back Somdiam Company’s illegal land eviction in Nyamuntende, Ndoi, and Kikungulu, all villages in the Kiryandondongo district.

In addition, when the defender refused to give up on his land, the armed guards’ personnel proceeded to loot his livestock but found strong resistance from Kaliisa’s family members who were grazing the cattle. In the scuffle, the guards opened fire and killed Kato and injured Rugazu.

“These armed company guards have repeatedly patrolled my home and livestock enclosure, aiming to loot them. They have already displaced most of our community members in Ndoi, Kikukungulu, and Nyamuntende, alleging that we have no rightful claim to this land despite us being its rightful owners. When they tried to evict me on Saturday, I stood my ground, asserting that I wouldn’t be displaced. Their response was to loot my grazing cows,” recounted the Kaliisa.

He added that the investor and its agents are revenging because of his work to resist an illegal eviction.

Somdiam company manager, Mr. Balute Isaac, confirmed that cattle keepers were grazing on the company’s land.

“It’s true that our guards were impounding their cattle because they had grazed in our plantations. Initially, this process was peaceful. However, the cattle keepers resisted and attacked our guards. In self-defense, two individuals were shot,” Mr. Balute disclosed to Witness Radio.

Continue Reading

MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK

The East Africa regional court dismisses a case challenging the construction of the EACOP project.

Published

on

By Witness Radio team

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has dismissed a case challenging the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) filed by four East African NGOs in 2020 against Total Energies, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and governments of both Uganda and Tanzania.

In its ruling today, the 29th of November, 2023, the EACJ relied on the preliminary objection raised by the Tanzanian and Ugandan governments regarding the timeframe within which the petition was filed at the EACJ.

The EACJ ruled that the applicants filed the petition out of time, thus saying that the petitioners should have filed the petition as early as 2017, instead of 2020.

“As a result, the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter”, said the judges in their unanimous decision.

On 6th November 2020, Natural Justice, Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Centre for Strategic Litigation and the Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) Limited filed a petition against the governments of Uganda and Tanzania and the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) challenging the construction of the EACOP project.

The Applicants’ petition rested on the assertion that the EACOP project violates multiple provisions of the Treaty of the Establishment of East African Community. The project further violates the Protocol for the Sustainable Management of the Lake Victoria Basin, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the African Convention on Conservation of Natural Resources, the post–2020 Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Paris Climate Accords.

Furthermore, the Applicants argued that the entities backing the EACOP project, such as Total Energies, Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation, and the Governments of Uganda and Tanzania, failed to carry out thorough and meaningful public engagement and consultation processes. Additionally, they contend that they did not conduct comprehensive assessments on both human rights and climate impacts before initiating the EACOP project.

The EACOP connects the Tilenga and Kingfisher oilfields in western Uganda with the port of Tanga in eastern Tanzania. Upon completion, the project will be the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the entire world. The $5 billion EACOP project will cover a distance of 1,443 kilometers.

The applicants further contend that pivotal facts necessary for presenting the merits of the petition before the EACJ were disregarded in the judgment, therefore, they intend to file an appeal.

After receiving the ruling, Lucien Limacher, Head of Defending Rights and Litigation at Natural Justice, said that the Court of First Instance for the East African Court of Justice failed to provide civil society with the chance to argue their case.

He adds, “This judgment marks a continuation of how the global north and various government institutions in Africa, are blind to the destruction of the environment and the impact oil and gas have on the climate. Profits are valued above livelihoods and the environment. We will evaluate the judgment in detail and make the necessary actions to ensure we continue to protect the environment and the people who live in it”.

The Chief Executive Officer of AFIEGO, Mr. Dickens Kamugisha, expressed that it was a disappointing day for millions of East Africans who had hoped the court would consider evidence related to the environmental, social, and economic risks of the EACOP project and decide based on the case’s merits.

Mugisha adds that, despite the setback faced, the applicants remain determined and are prepared to appeal this unjust ruling, firmly believing that the dangers posed by EACOP can and will be stopped.

Continue Reading

MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK

East African Court of Justice is to decide whether it has jurisdiction to try the EACOP case filed by Four East African NGOs today.

Published

on

By Witness Radio team

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) is delivering a ruling on the preliminary objections raised by Tanzania’s solicitor general regarding the court’s jurisdiction to hear a case filed against the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project today, the 29th of November 2023.

According to the ruling notice seen by Witness Radio, the regional Court will deliver the ruling at 9:30 East Africa Standard Time.

The Court consists of Honorable Mr. Justice Yohane Bokobora Masara Principal Judge, Honorable Justice Dr. Charles Nyawello Deputy Principal Judge, Honorable Mr. Justice Richard Muhumuza, Honorable Mr. Justice Richard Wejuli, and Honorable Justice Dr. Gacuko Leonard.

On 6th November 2020, four East African Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) including; Natural Justice, Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), the Centre for Strategic Litigation, and the Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) Limited filed a petition against the governments of Uganda and Tanzania and the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) challenging the construction of the EACOP project.

The basis of the Applicants’ petition rests on the assertion that the EACOP project violates multiple provisions of the Treaty of the Establishment of East African Community. The project further violates the Protocol for the Sustainable Management of the Lake Victoria Basin, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the African Convention on Conservation of Natural Resources, the post–2020 Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Paris Climate Accords.

Furthermore, the Applicants argue that the entities backing the EACOP project, such as Total Energies, China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation, and the Governments of Uganda and Tanzania, failed to carry out thorough and meaningful public engagement and consultation processes and additionally did not conduct comprehensive assessments of both the human rights and climate impacts before initiating the EACOP project.

After numerous hearings of the case at the EACJ, in March 2022, Mr. Gabriel Malata, the Solicitor General of the United Republic of Tanzania, raised several preliminary objections, which include his argument that the EACJ has no jurisdiction to hear both the main case and the application for temporary injunction filed by the NGOs.

In its upcoming ruling, the EACJ will delve into three pivotal preliminary issues concerning the involved parties in the case. These issues include determining whether the case pertains to interpreting the EAC Treaty, whether the case was filed within the stipulated timeframe, and whether the organizations’ pleadings were appropriately verified in adherence to the EACJ Rules of Procedure, among other aspects.

The East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) connects the Tilenga and Kingfisher oilfields in western Uganda with the port of Tanga in eastern Tanzania will be the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world and crosses through 10 districts in Uganda and 25 districts in Tanzania.

Uganda’s President, Mr. Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa, has often celebrated the oil projects calling a success. He firmly believes that the oil discovery represents a significant catalyst for economic development and will bring benefits to the local communities, but the current reality is a reverse to his statements.

Instead, the EACOP project has triggered significant concerns among communities and civil society groups due to its detrimental impacts on thousands of individuals in Uganda and Tanzania. The most affected have been the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and human rights activists who stand against the project. Reports have highlighted cases of land grabbing, the displacement of host communities, inadequate compensation, and the troubling trend of harassing and arresting community leaders and rights activists.

On the 14th of September 2022, the European Union Parliament passed an advisory resolution to suspend the oil pipeline for a year citing disastrous human and environmental rights violations associated with the project.

The resolutions put forth by the European Parliament legislators echo the distressing issues raised by affected communities regarding the oil pipeline project.

Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework

READ BY CATEGORY

Facebook

Newsletter

Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter



Trending

Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter