National News


By Christopher Nyeko

ADJUMANI: Over 40,000 residents occupying the contested land of Apaa in Adjumani district in Northern Uganda are facing eviction.

The cabinet recently ordered residents occupying the contested land to vacate it within the shortest time, but this has not been a welcome by residents.

According to residents, if they face eviction, they have nowhere to go since they have occupied the land in question for decades.

On 14th February 2023, the cabinet through the office of the prime minister pronounced its position to evict people from Apaa to end land wrangle which has lasted for at least 12 years.


Apaa land conflict emerged in 2011 whereby Acholi believed that organized Madi terrorized Acholi in Apaa with the aid of machetes, axes, bows and arrows.

It is reported that over 20 lives have been lost and thousands of people have sustained serious injuries during different confrontations.

Thousands of huts were torched down and valuable items such as animals and harvested produce were looted.

The Kilak South Member of Parliament Gilbert Olanya informed the cabinet that he was reliably informed by Bruce Martin, a foreign investor from South Africa about his business with the government of Uganda.

Olanya alleged that Bruce Martin is mounting pressure on the government of Uganda as he now intends to carry out his business of sport hunting in Apaa.

However Olanya did not disclose the sum of the money Bruce Martine could have paid to the Ugandan government.

Maj. Gen Jim Muhwezi, the security minister, however dismissed the allegations and advised Olany to produce more evidence to enable the government take action.

Meanwhile the government on the other hand said Apaa land was in 2002 gazetted as forest reserve and part of the East Madi Game Reserve.

Cabinet pronouncement

While at Otwee Multipurpose Hall on the 15th February 2023, Uganda’s Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Robbina Nabanja said that the cabinet resolved to evict people from the land in question.

‘’Following the series of meetings and consultations the government has done with various entities, institutions, and authorities, they have decided to evict all the people living on Apaa land with the intention of promoting tourism and forestry,’’ She said.

Nabbanja disclosed that the government is now embarking on sensitization of affected people and they will facilitate those who settled on the land between 2013 and 2014 and those who acquired land in 2019.

‘’The implementation of the sensitization meeting will end on the 15th May 2023 and on 16th we are going to mount heavy security to stop anybody from accessing the land. Government is starting the process of verifying people with authentic documents and this will help to acquire alternative land for resettlement,’’ she said, adding that the time has come to restore the environment noting that they have directed the minister for local government to stop operation of Apaa Market.

Gov’t compensation

According to the government, the occupant without the national Identity Card will be compensated with two millions shilling while those with the national Identity Cards will be paid ten million shilling, 20 bags of cement and 20 pieces of iron sheets.

Nabbanja revealed that the cabinet has approved a total of 2.5 billion shillings to compensate 71 households with national Identity Card and 300 households without national Identity Card.

The premier assured that the eviction will be conducted in a coordinated manner with a lot of integrity.

Before Nabbanja could finish reading the directives, leaders from Amuru angrily moved on to her, shocking her into total fight before she was swiftly escorted out of the meeting by the well armed security agencies hence prompting the meeting to end prematurely.

In October 2017, Apaa was annexed to Adjumani district by then minister for local government Tom Butime.

The minister for justice and constitutional affairs Norbert Mao appealed to Acholi to cooperate with the government so that they can be compensated, adding that where the matter has reached the government cannot make a reverse decision.

He however distanced himself from the compensation saying that the decision was made when he wasn’t in the cabinet.

Residents speak out

According to Javice Atunya Onek 82, resident of Apaa, the government should consider humanity.

“The compensation is not worth the values of our land, where they want to evict us from”.

Onek reasoned that “I know government is the people and people are the government. If the government has interest in our land they should be open to tell us, we are understanding people and we are willing to cooperate with the government.

He quoted that the constitution of the Republic of Uganda states for prior compensation of the people but wondered why they were not contacted.

Onek said people are unaware of what criteria the government used to determine that amount of money, 10 million shilling.

He criticized the ten million shillings saying that it cannot buy an acre of land in some parts of the country … So I am wondering what kind of government this is!.

Francis Owor, one of the local leaders, rejected the compensation and asked the government to consider another decision but not compensate them.

Grace Lanyero, nurse, said the decision the government has taken should be revised adding that many people have acquired land in Apaa and they have been able to feed their families through trade and commercial farming.

A 52-year-old Apono Lucy blamed the government for confining people in the IDP camp and took advantage of the people being out of their land to plant their coordinates on peoples land.

“Our children are not studying because the school is closed, the health centre is not being supplied, and people are now living like animals,” she claimed.

“…. yeah if the government has maintained its position of promoting game reserve and forestry we are willing to associate with the animals and trees as well.”

According to Innocent Akena, whose father’s home was a polling station, NRM manifesto emphasized on commercial agriculture, trade and commercialization, something people have embarked on but the same NRM government is now issuing the directive and ultimatum to destabilize the people.

Alex Atina Odong, chairperson of the Apaa Buganda business community said people have acquired loans and invested a lot of money for commercial business and agriculture with the intention of implementing presidential views and objectives on wealth creation.

‘’People have invested a lot of money in their businesses, if the government is to stick to their position, it will not be fighting for its own people,’’ he claimed.

Journalists arrested

The security who claimed that they are implementing the order from above on Sunday arrested three journalists who were covering news stories in Apaa.

The arrested include Ronny Job Okot NBS TV, Emmy Daniel Ojara of Uganda Radio Network and Speak FM, Christopher Nyeko of UG Reports News.

They were taken to Zoka police post. Security claimed that the journalists entered into Apaa without notifying them.

In the process of evacuating the journalist to the Zoka Ronny Job Okot’s camera fell from the speedy motorcycle and lens, tripods, and external microphone got damaged.

Statistics obtained from the local leaders in Amuru district indicated that over 15 people who were arrested from Apaa are still detained in Adjumani central police station.

Leaders claimed that the suspects were charged with murder cases and were denied police bond and never been taken to the court.

Some of the relatives and families of the detained suspects told this publication that they have sought for justice but in vain.

Among the detained are the primary school teacher of Apaa primary school who was arrested on his way to the school and taken to the remand and still hopeless if justice can prevail.

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