A child wonders for his future in the IDP camp in Agago
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A child wonders for his future near a house and food granary in the IDP

AGAGO-UGANDA: Nason Moro, 92 year- old of Alebtong village, now lives with deep wounds in his heart at Kokil Sub County, Agago district over seven kilometers away from his ancestral home after he was displaced forcefully by Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF). He is now one of the statistics of over ten thousand people who live in Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) as the Uganda army turned the all the six villages which used to neighbor Labwordwong army detached into military training wing.

Labwordwong army detached as an initiative of the post-Amin Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) government as a strategy to contain the frequent cattle rustling worriers from neighboring Karamoja Sub Region which has so far has killed over 1,000 people since Amin was overthrown in 1979 to date.

The old man, Nason, has every reason to be angry because, at his age, he is now not sure anymore if he will ever be laid to rest besides his ancestors who were peacefully laid beside each other at Alebtong village. He is now in an IDP, and is reminded of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war where he spent over ten years in camp.

The chairman of the displaced community, Mr. Walter Owiny, told the Black Star News reporter that the victims are now suffering because they are food insecure as they now have no access to the gardens. The UPDF, which has turned the former small detach which measured about 40 acres and the primary school, ten acres, into a national training ground and expanding it to over 24 square kilometers of land.

“I was born here in Paco-Abol in 1962, the years Uganda attained independence from British Colonial master, was raised and studied here at Labowrdwong Primary School, where I sat my Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), but now the UPDF calls me an alien”, laments Owiny.

He says the UPDF is now claiming Alebtong village, Labwordwong village, Kuryot village, Kworikong market, Boroboro village, Ngora village, Nyonganyonga village and Tongwiri village forcing over 15,000 people to take refuge at in Piamol Trading Center, Kokil Center and destroying the only primary school at Labwordwong and stopping us from cultivating our garden.

Owiny narrates that their woes started in 1979 when the then dictator Idi Amin was over thrown by combined forces of the Ugandans National Liberation Army (UNLA) and the Tanzania Defense Forces. Fleeing Amin’s soldiers evacuated Moroto military barrack in a hurry and left the armory intact. The Karamojong worriers took advantages of the fleeing soldiers and looted all the firearms left behind in the armory. This is when cattle raids began in the region in a bigger scale than before the overthrow of Idi Amin.

Nason Moro, is one of the five people who own the Labwordwong detach land, made claims of the land which had been used as the detach but the UPDF now wants to compensate them by offering UGX 5 billion (US$ 1.4 million) for the expanded training wing land.
However, Moro who is already aged says that if he is to fore go his land that measure about 500 acres, where will he put his children and grandchildren, considering the fact that he is already in the evening of his life?

“Although some people had opted to be paid, for me, I will not sell my land. If the UPDF want the land, then they should utilize the former Labwordwong barrack which had only 40 acres of land as a training wing for the Uganda National Liberation Army UNLA. Why do they want more than what the previous army had requested?” Moro reasoned.

He recalls that in 1979, when the Karamojong worriers attacked the region killing over 1,000 people, the then UNLA commander, Captain Ojukwu Okayotong decided to put Labwordwong as military and training Depot for Home Guard Militias.

He reveals that following that deadly attacks by the cattle rustlers, they met the Karamojong worriers and their leaders, including a self-styled Lt. Col. Apa-Luteng, who instead mocked at us.

“I remember the Headmaster of Labwordwong Primary school at that time. Mr. Okullu Makamio asking Apa-Luteng why the Karamojong keep on raiding cattle from their neighboring sub regions, like Acholi, Lango, Teso and others. He told us that if a woman who is pregnant but cannot delivery a baby, what can be done, his answer was, and that woman must be operated, comparing Acholi community to a woman.” Moro decries.

Mr. Ojok Leonard, the Agago District Chairman could not be reach as his phone was futile.

Mr. Owiny accused Mr. William Komakech, the Kitgum Residace District Commissioner (RDC) of complicity in the Labwordwong land conflict. During the burial of the late Lt. General Paul Lokech in August 2021, Mr. Komakech convened the meeting with the Member of Parliament after which they met the Division Commander of 5th UPDF Division and a UPDF lawyer over compensation for the land.

“I wonder that I am now being accused of grabbing community land yet they were the community who approached me that they wanted the army leadership to compensate them just like the people around Pajimo barrack were compensated. Let us leave issues of politic out of development. I was called by the people whom the UPDF have occupied their land to help them” Komakech fumed.

The Uganda 1962 Constitution chapter XII, close (7) stated that, “The Land Commission shall hold and manage any land vested in it by any law or acquired by the Government of Uganda and shall have such other powers and duties as may be prescribed by Parliament.

However, the 1996 Uganda constitution chapter fifteen, Article 237 on land and environment (1), states that land in Uganda belong to the citizens of Uganda and shall vest in them in accordance with the land tenure system provided for in the constitution.

(2) notwithstanding clause (1) of this article, (a) the government or a local government may, subject to article 26 of this constitution, acquire land in the public interest; and the conditions governing such acquisition shall be prescribed by parliament”

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