Pader, Uganda | At least 2,500 people occupying six villages in Angagura Sub County in Pader District are facing eviction to pave way from the Aswa Hydroelectricity Project.
The affected villages include among others Burlobo with 716 people, Biira 380, Lubala 556, Koyo 360, Pungole 450 and Pabit with 325 residents.
Nicolas Amone, a father of 14 children in Pungole Parish, says the project has encroached on his 250 hectors of land which includes two hectors of pine trees. Amone claims that he has been blocked from using the land without compensation.
Sunday Okeny, a resident of Burlobo parish told URN during an interview that he has been ordered to vacate his land measuring 80 hectors to pave way for the power project without compensation.
Lazarus Kidegasays, the Anga-gura Sub County LC III Chairperson, says they are seeking legal redress to repossess the land for the hydroelectricity power project, which he says was fraudulently acquired.
Julius Nyeko, the Pader District Lands Officer, says they have written to Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development seeking guidance on the ownership of the contested land since several government entities are claiming ownership.
Godfrey Largo Oringa, the Pader District LC V Chairperson, says they are struggling to establish the true ownership of Aswa Ranch land. He says the land was erroneously leased out by Uganda Livestock Industries through the District Land Board.
Largo further observes that the issue of Aswa Ranch is still very controversial as the District is struggling to regain its ownership.
Denis Obbo, the Lands Ministry Spokesperson, says the contested land legally belongs to the government with a title issued in 2015. He wonders why the settlers are raising complaints now.
In January this year, Acholi leaders led by retired Supreme Court Judge, Galdino Okello Moro petitioned court challenging the 2017 Presidential directive to lease out Aswa Ranch to private entities and persons as free public land.
Government is jointly sued with land boards from Agago, Kitgum, Amuru, Gulu, Lamwo, Nwoya, Omoro and Pader Districts. The disputed Aswa Ranch measures about 105,400 hectares.
It is currently occupied by the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre – NAGRC, Banuti and Aswa Power Project with the aim of transforming the lives of the people in Northern Uganda.