Some 7000 people living on Maruzi government-owned ranch in Apac district have petitioned Lira High Court seeking to block their planned eviction. The residents, mainly former Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from East Lango, settled in the ranch at the peak of the Joseph Kony led Lord's Resistance Army rebellion and have lived on the disputed land for over 15 years.
The residents, mainly former Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from East Lango, settled in the ranch at the peak of the Joseph Kony led Lord's Resistance Army rebellion and have lived on the disputed land for over 15 years.
The residents, mostly subsistence farmers, have for long been complaining of harassment by government security operatives to leave the area.
Through Makmot & Kibwanga Company Advocates, the residents have petitioned court seeking to block Apac district local government from enforcing the planned eviction.
Apac district local government in conjunction with district security committee headed by the Resident District Commissioner has always been attempting to remove the residents. Their petition was expected to be heard by the Lira resident high court Judge, Dr. Winifred Nabisinde but it was sent back for perusing by the High court registrar, Cissy Mudhasi.
In their petition, the residents accused Apac district local authority of harassment, torture and malicious damage to their property. They cited the January 2, 2012 attack on them by a group of game rangers under the command of the then Apac Resident District Commissioner Justin Kasibante.
After the scuffle, the settlers on April 13, 2012 wrote to the Attorney General, notifying him of their intention to go to court over the matter.
On August 19th 2014, the residents say another group of security operatives raided the place and tortured some of them severely. Geoffrey Okello, a father of seven, says the operatives forcefully demolished some grass thatched houses, harassed and tortured some residents and ordered them to leave the place.
Moses Ogwal claimed they occupied the disputed area in late 1980s and that they have nowhere to relocate to. Lira high court registrar confirmed receiving the petition.
The Apac district Vice chairperson Odongo Asante says they intend to allocate the land to private developers. Odongo says the space is now harbouring wanted criminals. He claims less than 200 people are living on the land.
Adams Makmot Kibwanga, the plaintiff's lawyer, says the residents are protected under international and Internally Displaced Persons' policy generated by the Office of the Prime Minister.
Maruzi ranch measuring about 64 Square Kilometres is also housing Atera ranch, and Atera Irrigation scheme.
Currently the ranch has about 1000 cows being kept by the Ministry of Agriculture for breeding purposes.