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Houses Burnt As Tribal Clashes Ravage Kiryandongo



Tension is high at Bedmot village, Mutunda Sub-county in Kiryandongo District after tribal clashes erupted between the Acholi and Paluo communities over a disputed land.

Four people were severely injured and more than 10 houses torched in clashes that swept the area, prompting some residents to flee their homes.

Those injured included the LC1 chairman of Bedmot village, Mr Ismail Bongomin. Others have been identified as Mr Alfred Odong, Mr George Elel and Mr Opiyo Oguka.

What started as a disagreement and misunderstanding between two neighbours: Former Kibanda County MP Sam Otada and Mr Arafat Gadaffi Ocira in 2015, escalated into tribal clashes between the Paluo and minority tribes in the area on March 2, 2018.

Mr Ocira, whose seven houses were burnt in the conflict, has since been displaced. He is currently living with his 11 children in a rented house in Karuma Trading Centre.

More than 50 families have been caught up in this bloody dispute over a land measuring about 500 acres. Currently, the dispute is between the Paluo tribe of former MP Otada and the minority tribes: Alur, Lugbara, Acholi, Langi, Iteso and Karimojong.

Mr Ocira told Daily Monitor that his grandfather settled on the disputed territory in 1972. He said all those affected have lived undisturbed until 2016 when the former legislator sent three people to evict them.

“This land conflict started in 2015. When I was in Kampala, Otada’s in-law Tom Oweka came with logic that the land belongs to them. He went ahead to make people to sign a document that they are squatters on the land,” he said.

“That time his plan went successfully and the minority tribes, the Langi, Alur and Lugbara then started hiring the land from Oweka for farming.”

In their petition to President Museveni and the Inspector General of Police for help, dozens of people headed by Mr Ocira claim that Mr Otada and two others wanted to throw them out of the land.

According to Mr Hitler Mukasa, the affected LC1 secretary, before they received response from President Museveni, the former MP sued them at the Masindi Magistrate’s Court where they have been battling the case of trespass. The ruling on the case is expected next month.

The residents, through their lawyers from Okurut and Company Advocates on March 23, wrote to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Martin Okoth-Ochola, complaining of continuous intimidation and malicious damage of their property by Mr Otada’s agents even before court decides the case.

“On March 2, 2018, they burnt all my seven houses and cut four people with panga (machetes),” Mr Ocira said.


The LC1 chairman of Bedmot Mr Ismail Bongomin, who was injured in the fight, said those being targeted by Mr Otada for eviction settled on the land after being displaced by the conflicts in South Sudan and northern Uganda.

“In 1985, they were brought as refugees, taken and abandoned at Karuma and their relatives who were staying at Kiryandongo refugees’ resettlement camp were asked to go and identify them,” he said.

“In 1989, Mr Otada went and picked one old man called Yocamo Opio whom he took and donated to him a virgin chunk of land at Karuma and the man was living there alone in the entire area and he named it ‘Bim yika’ (literally meaning chimpanzee will bury me).”

Mr Bongomin added that the late Opio later brought in his two daughters and son in-law and gave them some land for settlement and cultivation in 1992.

“These were the only three people living in this area with their families by then, but in the early 2000s some people who were fleeing the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Acholi sub-region started settling in this area,” he said.

Mr Johnson Odoc of Acholi tribe challenged his fellow tribe-men to appreciate those who hosted them during the conflict with the LRA.

“We should be thankful to the Paluo community for the hospitality they gave us during the war which has enabled us to educate our children,” he said.

Mr Otada, who acknowledged dragging 52 households to court, disputed claims that his agents have been attacking them and destroying their properties.

He told this reporter that the recent attacks were carried out by the same group targeting “peaceful tenants” that he has been hosting on the land.

“They are the ones carrying out attacks on my peaceful tenants after knowing that they refused to join their cause of stealing my land. Those people are peasants; what can I gain from attacking them and destroying their properties? I am not a fool to sue someone in the courts of law and again attack him or her,” he said.

Mr Otada said he owns 700 acres of land in the area but the contested part is about 300 acres where the people, who were running away from the LRA insurgency settled in 1987.

Kiryandongo District police commander, Mr Charles Okello, said the land conflict is causing insecurity in the area. He confirmed the recent attacks led to destruction of properties, adding they are working hard to make the matter settled.


Breaking: Witness Radio and Partners to Launch Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy Project Tomorrow.



By Witness Radio Team.

Witness Radio, in collaboration with Dan Church Aid (DCA) and the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD), is set to launch the Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Uganda (MDA-HRU) project tomorrow, 22nd February 2024, at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Hoima District.

The project, funded by the European Union, aims to promote the protection and respect for human rights, and enable access to remedy where violations occur especially in the Mid-Western and Karamoja sub-regions where private sector actors are increasingly involved in land-based investments (LBIs) through improved documentation, and evidence-based advocacy.

The three-year project, which commenced in October 2023, focuses its activities in the Mid-Western sub-region, covering Bulisa, Hoima, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kikuube, Kagadi, Kibale, and Mubende districts, and Karamoja sub-region, covering Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Abim, Kaabong, Kotido, and Karenga districts.

The project targets individuals and groups at high risk of human rights violations, including Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs). It also engages government duty bearers such as policymakers and implementers in relevant ministries and local governments, recognizing their crucial role in securing land and environmental rights. Additionally, the project involves officials from institutional duty bearers including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Equal Opportunities Commission, and courts, among others.

Representatives from the international community, faith leaders, and business actors are also included in the project’s scope, particularly those involved in land-based investments (LBIs) impacting the environment.

The project was initially launched in Moroto for the Karamoja region on the 19th of this month with the leadership of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD).

According to the project implementors,  the action is organized into four activity packages aimed at; enhancing the capacity and skills of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs) in monitoring, documentation, reporting (MDR), and protection, establishing and reinforcing reporting and documentation mechanisms for advocacy and demand for corporate and government accountability;  providing response and support to HRDs and marginalized communities; and lastly facilitating collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagements that link local and national issues to national and international frameworks and spaces.

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Kiryandongo leadership agree to partner with Witness Radio Uganda to end rampant forced land evictions in the district.



By Witness Radio team.

Kiryandongo district leaders have embraced Witness Radio’s collaboration with the Kiryandongo district aimed at ending the rampant violent and illegal land evictions that have significantly harmed the livelihoods of the local communities in the area.

The warm welcome was made at the dialogue organized by Witness Radio Uganda, Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog at the Kiryandongo district headquarters, intended to reflect on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

Speaking at the high-level dialogue, that was participated in by technical officers, policy implementers, religious leaders, leaders of project affected persons (PAPs), politicians, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and development partners that support land and environment rights as well as the Land Based Investments (LBIs) Companies in the Kiryandongo district, the leaders led by the District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Ms. Edith Aliguma Adyeri appreciated the efforts taken by Witness Radio organization to organize the dialogue meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders to safeguard community land and environmental rights in order address the escalating vice of land grabbing in the area.

During the dialogue, participants shared harrowing accounts of the impacts of land evictions and environmental degradation, including tragic deaths, families torn asunder, young girls forced into marriage, a surge in teenage pregnancies, limited access to education, and significant environmental damage which have profoundly affected the lives of the local population in Kiryandongo.

Participants attending the dialogue.

In recent years, Kiryandongo district has been embroiled in violent land evictions orchestrated to accommodate multinational large-scale agriculture plantations and wealthy individuals leaving the poor marginalized.

According to various reports, including findings from Witness Radio’s 2020 research Land Grabs at a Gun Point, the forceful land acquisitions in Kiryandongo have significantly impacted the livelihoods of local communities. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 individuals have been displaced from their land to make room for land-based investments in the Kiryandongo district. However, leaders in the district also revealed in the dialogue that women and children are affected most.

The Kiryandongo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Akweteireho, emphasized that all offices within the Kiryandongo district are actively involved in addressing the prevalent land conflicts. He also extended a welcome to Witness Radio, acknowledging their collaborative efforts in tackling and resolving land and environmental issues in the district.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the land rights together with environmental rights have been violated in our district, but because we don’t know what our rights are, because we have not directly done what we could to safeguard our rights and now this is the time that Witness Radio has brought us together to safeguard our rights. I want to welcome you in Kiryandongo and be rest assured that we shall give you all the necessary support to help us manage these rampant cases,” Ms. Adyeri said in her remarks during the dialogue meeting.

The team leader at Witness Radio Uganda, Mr. Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala expressed gratitude to the participants for their active involvement in the dialogue and revealed that Witness Radio’s objective is to find a holistic solution to the escalating land disputes in Kiryandongo district serving as an example to other districts.

“We are here to assist Kiryandongo district in attaining peace and stability because it stands as a hotspot for land grabbers in Uganda. Mismanagement of land conflicts in Uganda could potentially lead to a significant internal conflict. Everywhere you turn, voices are lamenting the loss of their land and property. Kiryandongo, abundant with ranches, suffers from a lack of a structured framework, which amplifies these land conflicts. The influx of wealthy investors further complicates the situation,” Mr. Ssebaggala disclosed.

Within the dialogue, Mr. Ssebaggala emphasized the need for the Kiryandongo district council to pass a by-law aimed at curbing land evictions as an initial step in addressing the prevalent land injustices.

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Kiryandongo authorities decry rising cases of land disputes



The LC5 chairperson of Kiryandongo, Ms Edith Aliguma Adyeri, has saidnland dispute has impacted on people’s lives, dignity and children’s education in the district.

Just like other parts of Uganda, conflicts over land in Kiryandongo arise when individuals – who often are blood relatives – compete for use of the same parcel of land or when members of the community lay claim over ownership of unutilised government land.

Ms Adyeri further said land and environmental rights affect people both directly and indirectly, “and we are not hearing it from afar. It is already together with us [here], it has already affected us!”

She was speaking at a meeting which sought to discuss alternative remedies to salvage the appalling land and environmental rights situation in Kiryandongo at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The one-day dialogue was aimed at reflecting on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

It was attended by private companies, members of civil society and local government officials and organised by Witness Radio – an advocate for land and environmental rights in Uganda – in partnership with Oxfam, and Kiryandongo District leadership.

“Some people have even died, families are broken up, and brothers are not seeing eye-to-eye because of land rights. Access to justice is equally becoming very difficult because when you hire one lawyer that
lawyer will talk to learned friends, and they agree. They leave you in suspense,” Ms Adyeri said.

According to her, some children have not accessed education because of land and environmental rights.

Mr Jonathan Akweteireho, the deputy Resident District Commissioner of Kiryandongo, said enlightened people especially should be sensitive to the historical injustice of this area.

“We can never handle the Bonyoro land question without thinking about that history. It will be an injustice to the incomers, to the government and to the leaders who don’t understand,” he said.

“We had 38 ranches here which on the guidance of these international organisations, especially the World Bank, the government restructured them, allowing people to settle there, they were never given titles and up to today, there are big problems in all those ranches,” he added.

Mr Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the executive director of Witness Radio, said that a well-functional land sector supports land users or holders and investors, reduces inefficiencies and provides mechanisms to resolve land disputes.

Mr David Kyategeka, the secretary to the Kiryandongo District Land Board, said the issue of land rights is very clear but the major challenge has been sensitising the locals to know what rights he or she expects to enjoy out of this very important resource.


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