PADER, UGANDA: The Uganda Prisons Services (UPS) have acquired 30,000 hectares of land in Pader district raising concerns among the community and leaders.
Measuring approximately 12 square miles, the land that is located in Laguti sub county, covers five villages namely Lakalanganya, Lakwor, Kalili, Onyon, and Lagot Oywee.
It is part of the estimated 105,400 hectares of land that the community reportedly leased to Uganda Livestock Investment in 1968.
On Friday, Gadison Tushabomwe, the Manager in Charge of the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre (NAGRC) in Pader district handed over the land to Uganda Prisons Services represented by Margaret Orik Obonyo, the Northern Region Prisons Commander.
During the site handover in Kalili village, Gadison said that the land is part of the Aswa Ranch, which was leased to the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre (NAGRC) by the Uganda Livestock Industry in 2016.
Orik said that Uganda Prisons Services will use the land to ensure food security in the country through farming cereals, which she said would commence shortly.
Orik later addressed a handful of community members who vehemently opposed the move and accused the prison authorities of fraud and stealing their land. The team was accompanied by a team of heavily armed security personnel comprising soldiers, police, and prisons.
Residents say that the NAGRC, which offered the land has no right to do so. They accused NAGRIC of planting illegal mark stones in the area to extend their boundaries beyond the Aswa Ranch land and eviction of the rightful occupants of the land.
John Watmon, 89, a resident of Kalili village said that the land in question is not part of the Aswa Ranch as it is being claimed by NAGRC and Uganda Prisons.
He noted that it is saddening that the government through NAGRC is encroaching on people’s land, planting mark stones and taking coordinates of land in the area at night.
According to Watmon, Aswa Ranch was leased to the government by the community in 1968 and only covered the areas of Bur Lobo, Okobo, Bangalore, Labiti, Tino, and Obwol Odeya.
He wonders how NAGRC now claims to hold freehold titles of the land and has extended its boundaries beyond the initial borders.
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