By Solomon Hamala
Security agencies were caught off guard when a group of 5500 people evicted from a contested piece of land re-occupied the same.
After a period of 30 years of eviction from a disputed land on five villages in Bulidha Sub County, Bugiri district by a tycoon David Ochieng, some of the disgruntled victims have decided to resettle on same land claiming being rightful owners of the land.
A group of about 5500 people who were evicted from five villages of Wakawaka, Namulesa, Igotero, Isinde and Kiluna surprisingly mobilized and returned on the land which is currently covered by eucalyptus trees on Sunday 11th October 2020.
The group was part of about 6000 people who were evicted by Ochieng in 1988 after winning a land court case against late Ezekel Lutakome who was their landlord.
The victims who have been living in different areas came using trucks which ferried them alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren and camped in the tress vowing to restart their life on the land.
They also carried foodstuffs, hoes, mattresses, saucepans among other things they have been using and camped in the eucalyptus.
The secretary of the group, Chris Isabirye said that they decided to return after failing to get justice from courts of law and various offices about their ‘illegal’ eviction.
He said that Ochieng, a resident of Tororo evicted them ‘illegally’ because the land they were occupying was just part of the court case he won against their landlord Late Ezekel Lutakome.
He asserted that Ochieng won a land case of a portion which measured only 500×1000 yards but later evicted them and took the whole land of about 7940 acres.
He added that after the court ruling, Ochieng bribed most court officials and stakeholders who failed their endless demands to demarcate the land.
He asked President Museveni, Lands Ministers, The State House Anti-corruption unit chairperson col. Edith Nakalema to intervene in their the matter to reclaim their land legally since they are facing challenges of having no permanent settlement.
Amuza Kinatama, a son and the heir of late Lutakome said that his father inherited the said land in 1951 from his grandfather Mutaledhu who was ‘a Mutala’ hereditary leader by then.
He said that even his father died in 1997 demanding for the land demarcation but Ochieng kept on skipping court summons of demarcating the land and bribing implementing officials.
He appealed to President Museveni and other relevant officials to help them regain their land since most of the victims are suffering with their families to date.
Court documents indicate that Ochieng won a land case civil suit number 65/1983 in Bugiri magistrates court of land measuring 500×1000 but victims claim the whole land on which they were evicted is about 7940 acres and the largest portion which they were living was free of the court case.
Azimafesi Mugoya who was the LC1 chairperson of Wakawaka village and is currently settled in Mayuge district said that they were evicted after being tortured by Milton Obote soldiers by then.
Mugoya cried to relevant officials to help them resettle on their land legally since they are still suffering with a big number of families they have.
Before resettling themselves, the victims notified the Bugiri Resident District Commissioner in a letter dated 14 September 2020 and also copied to the speaker Rebecca Kadaga, area police officials, and other relevant offices they had earlier approached about the same.
The victims had earlier written to relevant authorities like Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, Presidential Advisor Katenda Luutu, police but all in vain despite their positive responses to concerned authorities to help them.
When contacted, the Bugiri Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Godfrey Nyakahuma said that he was still analyzing court documents about the ruling.
He said that he will soon approach the District State Attorney to interpret for him the ruling before forging away forward and cautioned to avoid settling on the said land illegally.
The Busoga East Regional Police Commander, Anatooli Katungwesi cautioned them to resettle on the said land before following lawful processes otherwise they will be prosecuted over criminal trespass.
He said their documents have merit but advised them to get court order to help them demarcate the land before settling peacefully and lawful other than being arrested for criminal trespass.
However, when contacted, Ochieng said that he is the rightful owner of the land and asked the complainants to seek court redresses.
He said that that he bought the said land about 40 years ago and have its proper documentation and currently rented the land to a company which planted eucalyptus trees.
By press time, the resetttlers who were to sleep in form of a camp had started clearing the bush and cooking food amidst police threats to leave the area.
They vowed not to leave until government helps them and bring Ochieng at site and open land boundaries to ascertain his share.