AUGUST 29, 2010: Court Evicts LRA Victims

Court Evicts LRA Victims

SOURCE: New Vision

By Bill Oketch

Kampala — Victims of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) war, who fled the rebels and occupied land in Lira municipality, have been evicted and their houses demolished.

More than 22 households that claim to have bought the land at Kirombe North B' in Omito parish were left homeless. The move came after the residents defied an order from the Gulu High Court, directing them to vacate the land. Security personnel have since been heavily deployed in the area to prevent the occupants from accessing the land.

The victims, however, claim they bought the 40-acre piece of land from Pollycap Ogwang, a son to the late Yakobo Omonya. "They came with pangas, axes and guns, saying they had been told to arrest us and destroy our houses.

"What they did that day was worse than what the LRA did when they attacked our village in 2004," Solomon Ayang, a victim, said. A primary five pupil, whose mother's grass-thatched house was demolished, blamed the government for failing to support them during the incident.

The pupil said the new land law that was approved last year could have been used to protect them. The law gives long-term tenants more rights to the land, thus making it hard to evict them. It also states that anyone found carrying out forceful eviction of a bona-fide occupant, without obtaining a court order first could face up to seven years in prison.

A bona-fide occupant is someone who has either lived on the land for 12 years or more, or been settled there by the Government. "We did not want to evict them, but circumstances forced us to," Florence Akello, a caretaker of the land, said.

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