UGANDA: LEGISLATOR ACCUSES ACHOLI LEADERS OF GRABBING ASWA RANCHES

Sub-county Headquarter like Angagura and centers of secret deals
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Headquarter of Angagura sub-county, the host of the new projects.
“I know all the leaders are chosen by God, now, with these many councilors of the PPP party and a PPP legislator, your voice should echo in parliament, the country and even here in Pader district”

“I lost the leadership fifteen years ago; our leaders took the matter of Aswa Ranch easily. How was Aswa land given by Acholi leaders in the 1960s? And how did Rwot Acana 11 say about the land issues?”

PADER-UGANDA: The area Member of Parliament for Pader North, Mrs. Santa Okot, has accused Acholi leaders and their Members of Parliament that they have a hand in the giveaway of Aswa Ranch and Acholi Ranch lands and its surrounding areas to fake companies without due consideration of environmental concerns.

Mrs. Santo Okot was named as the only face of the People Progressive Party, both in Pader and in the August House, by the youthful Bishop of the Diocese of Kitgum during her Thanksgiving ceremony.

“Where were the Acholi leaders when the Aswa Hydro Power Project took away over2000 acres of community land”? She pauses the question.

Bishop Rev. Wilson Kitara blessed Mrs. Santa Okot before big crowd who turned up to celebrate her election to the 11th Parliament, saying that she was now a leader chosen by God and asked her to stand up for your people.
“I know all the leaders are chosen by God, now, with these many councilors of the PPP party and a PPP legislator, your voice should echo in parliament, the country and even here in Pader district”, the Bishop said.

Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations1998 provides for implementation of the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) requires that all projects of the third schedule in the NEA should be subject to an impact assessment before implementation.

Regulation 5 (1) of the Environmental Impact Assessment (1998) requires developers to prepare a project brief, the guidelines also stipulate that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process should be participatory and the public widely consulted to inform get their views about the proposed investment.

Mrs. Santa Okot said in Lwo; “Lutela aye oweko ngom wa ocito”, meaning, “our leaders are the one the ones who allowed our land to be grabbed”.

“I lost the leadership fifteen years ago; our leaders took the matter of Aswa Ranch easily. How was Aswa land given by Acholi leaders in the 1960s? And how did Rwot Acana 11 say about the land issues?”

A baseline survey conducted in 1999 says the vegetation in this area is therefore relatively natural although the area was predominantly grass land, it has since been invaded by woody species but there is now rampant tree cutting especially for charcoal is rampant in the area.
Mrs. Santa Okot disclosed that when she read the assessment report conducted by Aswa Hydro Power in 1999, it says there no physical displacement of the local community and therefore no need for compensation or resettlement, but the land owners were still displaced in “Concentration Camps also called Internally Displaced People’s Camps”, saying the only way to force the management of the Aswa Hydro Power Project, who have become land grabbers, is to maintain pressure by land owners because that is their land.

“The people’s land must be compensated. I want to follow the Court issue. About 2,000 people are affected and their land taken by the new owners of Aswa Ranches and Aswa Hydro Power Project.” Santa Okot warns.

She advises the celebrants that for the five years that she is going to be in Parliament, she will make sure that the people who have been affected are compensated.

The former Local Council III Chairman of Angagura sub-county, Mr. Lazarus Obbo says if compensation was done, these communities could have moved away from grass thatched houses. Instead, they are facing dilemma of land eviction by Aswa Hydro Power Dam project amidst alleged a compensation scam.

“I have faulted the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development for bypassing the district at the time of survey in 2015. That led to the acquisition of the land title but we know that the project includes Aswa Ranch, which measure only 105,400 hectares of land while Acholi Ranch, which is in the upper project, measure 40 square kilometer of land.” Says the Pader district Surveyor, Mr. Julius Nyeko.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer at the Land Ministry, a one Mr. Obbo, says the matter of the boundary reopening is a good idea and advised the district to push for it. He however warns that the land in question seems to be a mystery but says the land title in question is legally binding.

“The land title was issued in 2015, and we have just seen them coming now, if they have any complaint let them go to court.” Obbo mooted.

Mr. Jumah Magambo, one of the officials of Animal Genetic Research Center and Data Bank, the new owners of Aswa Ranch, when contacted, says their land title is valid and they are the legal occupants of the ranch and denies being wrongfully acquired the land.

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