UGANDA POLICE HOLDS LEGISLATOR FOR ALLEGEDLY “INCITING VIOLENCE” IN LAND GRAB OPERATION SAGA IN AMURU

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One of the mark stones planted at Apaa, ten kilometers away inside Amuru district, from the border drawn by the colonialist at Zoka River.

The Aswa River Regional Police are holding the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kilak County in Uganda, Mr. Gilbert Olanya, for allegedly “inciting violence” during a forceful demarcation of a disputed border line between Adjumani and Amuru districts.

Protesting locals destroyed a bridge on Ayugi River, which connects Apaa village in Amuru district to neighboring Adjumani district, to prevent a group of armed police and army personnel who were marching from Adjumani to the village to put mark stones on a disputed border demarcation.

As the saga in Apaa were unfolding, youth of Pabbo Township engaged in running battles with the Police and Army, about sixty kilometers away, when news of the Apaa operation reached the township.

Unconfirmed report from Pabbo reports of four deaths of civilians at Apaa,  and several injured, some of whom were rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor in Gulu Town.  One man lost one of his hands, when an army armored vehicle shot at him. Twenty-six youth were arrested from   Pabbo Township scuffle.

“He is in Police custody, in safe hands, in a secure place and an approved Institution of Government”, Deputy Regional Police Commander, Senior Superintendent of Police Mr Tom Aziku-Zata told the Black Star News on Tuesday, September 8th 2015.

“This is an operation that had been planned long ago. We are just re-opening the boundary between Amuru and Adjumani’ our business is to secure peace to the people on the ground. One of the charges we shall prefer against him (Mr. Olanya) is inciting violence”. The Police boss said.            

The legislator was arrested and held on Monday, September 7th, 2015 from Parabongo Trading Center, located fifteen miles along the colonial Great North Road. This is part of the road that connects Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo in Egypt build during the Second World War. He was driven to Bobi Police Post in Omoro County, Gulu district located thirty miles away along Kampala Highway. Journalists followed the Police convoy to Bobi, then to Kamdini Corner before the journalists returned to Gulu at night.

It has been confirmed by Mr. James Onen, of Odongo & Company Advocates, that the police took him to Masindi police Station in Mid-Western Uganda where he is being held by press time.

Mr. Onen has travelled to Masindi to try to secure his release by today (Wednesday), since he will have spent the maximum forty-eight hours Uganda Police are allowed to hold a suspect before taking him/her to courts of Law.

He, together with the Amuru district woman MP, Ms. Lucy Akello, were taking a group of journalists to Apaa to witness atrocities being committed by the security personnel deployed in an operation since Sunday, September 6th . This is the same place where, in March 2015, a group of women stripped naked before two Cabinet Ministers, in protest for the proposed demarcation of their land with Adjumani district thereby causing postponement of the demarcation exercise.

Addressing the press at the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) offices earlier on Monday, the MP said the problem between the local Community of Apaa started way back in 2012, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Grace Turyagumanawe, commanded an operation to evict the local community from their land and dumped them at Pabbo township.

He told the press that the Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Aronda Nyakarima met the two of them two weeks ago and briefed the two legislators of Cabinet directive to him to effect the disputed border demarcation. They claimed that this is contrary to an earlier meeting resolution with the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, where it was agreed that no demarcation should take place before Acholi and West Nile leaders hold a joint meeting with the affected Community.

“We told minister Aronda that: let us follow the law so that our people are not subjected to unnecessary sufferings” Mr. Olanya says.

GENESIS OF THE CONFLICT

In 2005, the district council of Adjumani passed a resolution to re-Gazette part of its land bordering Amuru district into East Madi Wild Game Reserve and handed it to Uganda Wild-Life Authority (UWA). This area used to be the Elephant Corridor where herds of Elephants move between Murchison National Game Park in Uganda and the South Sudan Park near Nimule border town.

This was at a time when the people of neighboring Acholi sub-region were living in concentration camps and their vast land was inhabited. The leadership of Adjumani decided to annex Apaa parish in Pabbo sub-county, Amuru district to be part of East Madi Wild-Life Game Reserve

The MP for Adjumani district, Gen. Moses Ali, then got a one Bruce Martin, a South African National and offered him East Madi Game Reserve so as to establish a Sport hunting project. Mr. Olanya told the press on Monday that the investor had been given a lease of twenty years for the area, but when he came to survey the area, he found that the people of Apaa parish had already gone back to their villages and they had occupied part of “his Land”.

In 2012, government tried to evict people of Apaa forcefully, during which, three youths were killed and dozens others arrested and taken to Adjumani Government Prison.

In March this year a group of women stripped naked in front of two Cabinet ministers to protest the planned demarcation of their “ancestral land” claiming it is a ploy of government to grab their land and give it away to investors.

“We are not going to have our border demarcated. Our colonial masters used rivers, mountains, water bodies and forests as common borders. Why plant mark stones between our border and Adjumani. We are not going to sit back," Mr. Olanya told the press.

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