By Innocent Atuganyira

BULIISA: Over 10,000 families in the two villages of Booma and Watembu in Butiaba town council Buliisa district are at the risk of being evicted from their land. This is according to Chief Magistrate judgement delivered by Deogratius Ssejemba at Masindi Magistrate Court on Wednesday afternoon in favour of Francis Kahwa Balam.

In 2014, residents of the said villages ran to Masindi Magistrate Court challenging Kahwa over ownership of over 500 acres of land in Butiaba town council. Angry residents explained that Kahwa obtained the land fraudly adding that he doesn’t have documents pertaining land ownership. They also added that Kahwa had no land in their area.

According to Amos Bazaale, a resident of Booma village, land in Buliisa is customary owned and he is wondering how Kahwa is claiming ownership of customary land asserting that they are completely rejecting the ruling. ‘’Kahwa filed a case against Tullow Oil Company over lack of privacy, and we filed a case against him over fraudly owning our land, we are still wondering why our case was conjoined with the one for Tullow,’’ Bazaale wondered.

Bazaale noted that they are going to appeal. ‘’This judgement is purely unfair, we are going to appeal because we are over 10,000 households and we don’t have where to go,’’ He further noted.

John Ntabimanye the area chairperson Booma village noted that there is no justice in the ruling. ‘’There is no justice in this ruling, government should intervene and save the people of Buliisa against the land grabbers,’’ he added.

The area chairperson also noted that the land grabbers are compromising the magistrate.

Simon Byenkya Musiimo an elder explained that in 2003 President Museveni asked the Basiimo to donate land for government to establish Military Training School in Butiaba, then in 2006, President Musveni visited the same area and boundaries were made made between the community and barracks. Later on, Kahwa deployed armed soldiers to make survey for the remaining piece of land.

Byenkya told that when they asked Kahwa for survey report or his land application, to their dismay, Kahwa had nothing. The elder is wondering how Kahwa is claiming land ownership in their area yet he doesn’t have any document.

Addressing journalists shortly after the ruling, Francis Kahwa Balam said that he compensated the land owners and those claiming are not land owners. ‘’I compensated the land owners, those claiming are not owners. Those who has occupied the land I paid them,’’ he said.

Kahwa revealed that he was happy since the ruling was in his favour. ‘’I’m happy the ruling has been made,’’ he asserted.

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