High Court Blocks Forceful Eviction of Former IDPs from Gov't Ranch

2573 Views Apac, Uganda

In short
But on Friday evening, Lira High court issued a temporary order barring the district security, Central North regional police commander Richard Aruk Maruk, Attorney General and Apac district council from forcefully evicting the residents.

During a session presided over by Lira High Court registrar, Cissy Mudhasi, the authorities have been ordered to stay the planned eviction pending another decision by the court.

High Court in Lira district has blocked government from forcefully evicting some 7000 former internally displaced persons living on Maruzi government-owned ranch in Apac district.
 
The displaced persons settled on the ranch at the height of the insurgency led by the Lord's Resistance Army rebellion. They were on the run from East Lango. They have lived on the land for 15 years.
 
Apac district local government in conjunction with district security committee headed by the Resident District Commissioner has always been attempting to evict the residents.
 
In July this year, Apac district council resolved to forcefully remove the residents prompting them to petition Lira high court.
 
For long, the residents, mostly subsistence farmers, have been complaining of harassment by government security operatives to leave the area.
 
But on Friday evening, Lira High Court issued a temporary order barring the district security, Central North regional police commander Richard Aruk Maruk, Attorney General and Apac district council from forcefully evicting the residents.
 
During a session presided over by Lira High Court registrar, Cissy Mudhasi, the authorities have been ordered to stay the planned eviction pending another decision by the court.
 
Apac deputy RDC, Robert Omut says they will sit in the district security committee meeting and review the court.
 
Through Makmot & Kibwanga Company Advocates, the residents complained of torture and malicious damage to their property by security operatives.
 
In their petition 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.
 
On August 19th 2014, the residents say another group of security operatives raided the place and tortured some of them.
 
Samuel Otim one of the affected residents expressed happiness saying they will now rest and concentrate on agriculture.
 
Jimmy Adea, another affected resident applauded the court decision.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
 
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.

 

About the author

Ronald Odongo
Ronald Odongo is the URN Bureau Chief Lira, Northern Uganda.A multimedia Journalist, Media trainer and investigative enthusiast. Lira,Apac,Dokolo,Oyam, Kwania, Otuke, Amolatar,and Alebtong districts fall under his docket. Odongo has been a URN staff member since 2012 though he had been a contributor since 2006.

Odongo started out as a bicycle reporter for Radio Unity in 2004. He was Radio Rhino FM's senior reporter, Luo news anchor and station producer between 2006 and 2011. Odongo started out as a freelance writer for Uganda Radio Network in 2006.

Odongo is particularly interested in reporting on community health, and education concerns. Good governance and human rights beats are dear to Odongo as a former Lord’s Resistance Army rebels captive 1996-1998.