Hoima Evictees Live In Misery

1470 Views Hoima, Uganda

In short
Tibagwa secured an eviction from Masindi High court to evict the residents from a 500 acre piece of land.

Evicted residents of Bugambe sub county in Hoima district are living in misery.  The affected residents were evicted from their homes in Rwamutonga village in Katanga parish in Bugambe sub county by Joshua Tibagwa, a local businessman on August 24 this year. Tibagwa secured an eviction from Masindi High court to evict the residents from a 500 acre piece of land. The residents forced their way back on the land a day later, but were evicted by private security guards deployed by Tibagwa.
 
According to the evictees, the guards have since camped on the land beating and arresting whoever attempts to access it to get food. The residents claim that eight of their relatives are in jail on charges of criminal trespass after they were arrested for attempting to access the contested land to harvest some food. On top of what they call illegal arrest of their relatives, the evictees are living miserably at a camp on the land donated by a Good Samaritan, about a kilometer away from the contested land.
 
On Wednesday, our reporter found the residents staying in an overcrowded camp with make shift structures erected one after the other. It’s in these small grass-thatched structures that the displaced people sleep, no matter the size of their families. George Odaga, the secretary for the affected persons says life is not easy living in the camp, without food and home utensils since they were all burnt during eviction. Odaga explains that all their children have dropped out of school since all their books and uniforms were destroyed.
 
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According to Odaga, a total of 1790 people were evicted from the land. This contradicts the police which has always put the number of evictees to just over 200.The breakdown also indicates that 329 are children in primary school while only 24 are in secondary school. Controversy still surrounds the eviction order which saw this multitude displaced as local leaders insist the wrong people were evicted.

Nelson Atich, the Katanga Parish LC 3 councilor argues that the case between Tibagwa and the evictees is still in court and there’s no way an eviction order could have been issued before the matter is disposed of. He says his leadership and the evictees are now engaging lawyers to be able to interpret the eviction order and to whom it was directed.
 
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Alongside the court case between Tibagwa and the evictees, the businessman had also another court case with Robert Bansigaraho, a resident of Hoima town over a neighboring piece of land which also had settlers. The matter was however settled out of court and Bansigaraho gave way.
 
Atich claims the order was only binding to a few settlers on the land contested between Bansigaraho and Tibagwa and not such a crowd.  84 year old Yesse Bansigaraho who owned part of the contested land before his son Robert Basingaraho illegally sold it off to Tibagwa says all he knew is that some of the evictees are neighbors to Tibagwa.
 
Tibagwa has not yet commented as he couldn't be reached by our reporter. However, in earlier interviews Tibagwa maintained that he has a title for the land in question.