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Locals reject Shs70b irrigation project

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Project. An irrigation scheme in northern Uganda. Residents of Atiak Sub-county in Amuru District have rejected a Shs70b irrigation system, claiming it is a ploy to grab their land. FILE PHOTO 

A project undertaken by the government to build a Shs70b irrigation system in Atiak Sub-county in Amuru District, has hit a deadlock after residents labelled the development, a systematic approach to grab their land.
During this year’s State of the Nation Address, President Museveni disclosed that the feasibility studies for the Amuru-Pabbo irrigation scheme were complete.

He said the scheme is expected to boost the agricultural sector for increased productivity.
The project, which is being undertaken by the Ministry of Water and Environment, is meant to sit on a seven sq km chunk of land covering at least 2,000 hectares located on River Unyama between Pawel Kal, Palukere and Pupwonya parishes in Atika Sub-county.

The project relevance
The Water and Environment ministry, in a statement said the project will improve farm income, rural livelihoods, food security and climate resilience through sustainable natural resources management and agricultural enterprise development.
However, land owners in the demarcated area have since declined to offer their land for fear of it being grabbed by the government.
The land owners also argue that similar government ventures elsewhere like Agoro Irrigation Scheme in Lamwo District have not had any impact on the agricultural productivity.

Taking 75 community representatives for a visit to Agoro Irrigation Scheme in Lamwo District two weeks ago, following months of negotiations, could not convince the landowners to offer their land.
Mr Charles Okeny, a resident of Pawel Kal Village, told Daily Monitor that the visit to Agoro Irrigation Scheme simply reminded them of how the project had failed to impact on the lives of local farmers.
“For the past 30 years now, the project in Agoro has yielded nothing because it does not suit the interests of the locals and the water failed to sprinkle. Right now they are stealing and selling pipes and other metallic parts as scrap,” Mr Okeny said.

He added that unless government processes land titles for all the land owners in the project area, they will not trust the project.
Ms Rose Lamaro, a peasant at Lalem A Village, said they are worried that the project will obstruct them from grazing their animals, especially in the dry spell when animals roam freely around the banks of Unyama River.
“I cannot be part of it and I’m not offering my land because, at the beginning they come pleading for the land but next time you will see them deploying soldiers here and not even your cow can cross to the stream to drink water,” Ms Lamaro said.

Leaders concerned
On Wednesday, Ms Linda Auma, the Amuru Resident District Commander, said several attempts to talk to the residents to embrace the project failed.
“I’m scheduled to meet them myself next week and hold discussions with them without involving other politicians, this is a great development that we cannot afford to miss,” Ms Auma said.
In an interview, Mr Michael Lakony, the Amuru District chairperson, said there was a lot of negative politicking against the development. He said rejecting the project was a big disappointment to the district.

“Bad politics in the area is causing all these, others incited landowners that their land will be grabbed once they give government a nod to use it. But we are holding an emergency meeting and consulting with the ministry directly to see that the project is relocated to another area but within Amuru District,” Mr Lakony said.
This newspaper established that in May, a team of engineers from the Ministry of Water and Environment conducted feasibility studies in the project area and this month, they were set to return for boundary establishment before advertising for bids.

Project officials
Attempts to speak to Mr Alfred Okot Okidi, the Permanent Secretary in the Water and Environment ministry, were futile as his known telephone numbers went unanswered.
But the ministry’s senior spokesman, Mr Charles Muwonge, said the ministry was yet to hold another discussion over the progress of the project although he did not disclose the details.
Mr John Bosco Ocan, the Atiak Sub-county councillor, who led the team, said the resistance was met from Abongo Rwot A, Pawel Kal, and Oloyo-mung villages due to lack of sensitisation.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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Accountable Development To Communities

A self-claimed landlord who caused the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders on false charges was aligned before the court and charged with 28 counts.

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Naava while entering court cells at  Mubende.

By Witness Radio Team

A magistrate court at Mubende has charged a self-claimed landlord with 28 counts plus murder. Naava Milly Namutebi caused the arrest of six community land rights defenders, falsely accused them of murder, and got imprisoned for three years without trial. 

Naava’s appearance before the court followed shortly after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) dropped murder charges against six community land rights defenders. These include; Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.

Naava was charged along with Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, Henry Kaaya, among others. They were not allowed to answer any charges as the court had no power to make legal decisions and judgments on charges read to them.

The prosecution alleges that Naava and others still at large, committed offenses in areas of Mubende and Kampala districts between 2006 and 2021.

From 2012 to date, Naava got help from the senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses while forcefully evicting over 4,000 people off their land. 

The land being targeted measures 3.5 square miles covering villages including Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.

Naava and others accused were remanded to Kaweeri prison until 19th/July/2022. 

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

Six community land rights defenders from Kawaala have turned up at police for interrogations but, failed to take off

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By Witness Radio Team.

The six community land rights defenders from Kawaala zone II and the local leader that were summoned to appear at the Old Kampala Regional Police Headquarters have turned up, however, the interrogations did not take off due to the absence of the head of investigating team.

The six community defenders were required to report back to police for further investigations into alleged crimes that have not yet been officially disclosed to defenders’ lawyers. They were supposed to appear before the police investigation team today the 06th of July 2022 at 10:00 AM.

The defenders include; Kasozi Paul, Busobolwa Adam, Kabugo Micheal, Serugo Charles, Ssemanda David, Sserukwaya David, and the area vice-chairman Patrick Kato Lubwama.

While appearing before police for the first time last week on Wednesday 29th, the Deputy Assistant Inspector of Police (D/AIP) Domara Patrick who heads the investigations team casually said the defenders and the local leader are being investigated for obtaining money by pretense and forgery, which charges are not mentioned on police summons.

Since the first COVID outbreak in 2020, the victim defenders and others have been leading a pushback campaign to stop forced eviction by a multimillion dollars Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2) being implemented by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). The drainage channel construction is financed by the World Bank.

This project first impacted Kawaala Zone II around 2014, when a channel diversion was constructed. The current planned expansion will widen that channel and require forced evictions across an area at least 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long.

Witness Radio – Uganda has established that the Deputy Resident City Commissioner (RCC) in charge of Rubaga Division, Mr. Anderson Burora is among the complainants. Resident City Commissioner is a representative of the president in the Capital City at the division level.

Witness Radio – Uganda believes that police are being used to harass and intimidate defenders to back off the justice campaign for people negatively impacted by the drainage channel.

The defenders and the local council leader have been booked to report back to the police on Monday, the 11th of July 2022 at 9:00 AM local time.

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

A self-claimed landlord who masterminded the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders for three years has been arrested.

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Naava being arrested by police.

By Witness Radio team.

A joint team of investigators from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from Kampala and the Mubende police arrested a self-claimed landlord who falsely accused six community land rights defenders of murder and led to a three years imprisonment without trial.

Naava Milly Namutebi was arrested at her farm in Kirwanyi in Mubende district with other alleged land dealers namely Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, and Henry Kaaya.

Naava’s arrest occurred a few days after the DPP dropped charges of murder against six community land rights defenders who had spent three years without trial. These include Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.

Since 2012, Naava with the help of senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende have orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses against over 4,000 people to evict them off their land. The land is measuring 3.5 square miles covering villages namely Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.

According to locals, Mubende police acting on Naava’s orders arbitrarily arrested and unlawfully detained dozens and dozens of land owners at different police stations in the district. Several victims allege they had to pay colossal sums of money to be released.

For many years, Mubende district has been one of the forced eviction hotspots where families are forced off their land with compensation or being offered settlement. Witness Radio’s one-year research report released in 2017 revealed that over 60% of the total grabbed land in the district was stollen by local investors.

Witness Radio – Uganda research indicates that Naava is involved in multiple land grabs with the help of government security apparatus. In 2017, residents namely Ruhobana Dombo, Samuel Ndekezi, and Chleopus Zariwa from the Butoloogo sub-county in Mubende district were arbitrarily arrested and detained on Naava’s orders by Mubende police.

The victims and other residents lawfully occupied and cultivated their land for decades but got shocked to hear that Naava was claiming ownership of their land.

The trio had gone to their gardens to plant maize on August 17, 2017, when Naava’s stick-wielding laborers attacked and severely beat them.

Naava is currently held at Mubende Central Police Station, with 28 charges including murder, attempted murder, forgery, and others preferred against her.

 

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