Court presided by Henry Twinomuhwezi, the Assistant Registrar Gulu High Court issued an interim order restraining attorney general, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Adjumani district local government from evicting the residents from the disputed area until the main suit is disposed on February 08th.
The residents sought interim orders from Gulu High court on Wednesday afternoon restraining government, Adjumani district Local government and Uganda Wildlife Authority from proceeding with their impending eviction.
In their affidavits, residents contend that Adjumani district local government is claiming the villages as part of East Madi Game Reserve. They say Adjumani wants them to vacate the area to allow UWA to rehabilitate the game reserve.
Henry Twinomuhwezi, the Assistant Registrar Gulu High Court issued an interim order restraining the Attorney general, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Adjumani district local government from evicting the residents from the disputed area until the main suit is disposed of in February. In his ruling, Twinomuhwezi said the application by residents has merit, saying they shouldn't be disturbed until the main application is heard.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) was represented by Ali Luzinda and Chemonges Mongea Sabila. They asked Court to throw out the application, saying UWA has never been a party to any tribal conflict in Apaa. Tom Okello Obong, an assistant director in Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) told journalists after the ruling that they will wait for the main application.
//Cue in: "This thing has…
Cue out: "…inter-tribal clashes"//
Obong says it is unfortunate that MP Akol and five others joined them in a suit they should have never been party to.
//Cue in: "We have been…
Cue out: "…in this application"//
The aggrieved residents were represented by lawyer Okello Oryem of Okello Oryem and Company Advocate. They told court in their affidavits that soldiers and Police have been deployed ahead of the eviction on February 05th to harass them until they leave the disputed area.
Their lawyer Okello Oryem said the presence of the armed forces guarding the sign post of Adjumani district local government is leading to ethnically motivated attacks against the Acholi community living in the area.
//cue in: "There have been…
Cue out: "…to protect them"//
The residents had filed the application on January 15th. Kilak North County Member of Parliament Anthony Akol says Police have since established a barrack at Adjumani entry point in preparation for the eviction.
He said the injunction should be respected until the main suit challenging the location of the boundary is heard by court.
//Cue in: "They have now…
Cue out: "…address this issue"//
Akol says homes of residents are frequently visited by armed groups of soldiers and Uganda Police numbering between five and ten asking them to voluntarily leave the area. He says they claim the area belongs to Uganda Wildlife Reserve.
Dispute between Adjumani district and Amuru district local government started in 2010 after Adjumani district council gazetted part of Apaa, Pabbo and Labala as East Madi Wildlife Reserve while residents of the area were still in camps for internally displaced persons. Amuru district council accuses Adjumani of overstepping its boundary.
MP Akol says the dispute between Adjumani and Amuru has sucked in both Uganda Wildlife Authority and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) as well. He says soldiers deployed on October 13th when Tom Butime handed the disputed area to Adjumani district have refused to vacate the area.
//Cue in: "That has taken…
Cue out: "…to go away"//
Government later leased the area to Martin Bruce, a South African tourism operator for establishment of a controlled hunting ground. In 2012, the area descended into chaos as UWA attempted to evict residents who had settled in the area. Since then, several lives have been lost and properties destroyed in the inter district boundary.
Court is set to rule on the main suit by Amuru district local government challenging the location of the boundary on February 08th.