The US has poured arms and military training on Uganda. Now that Uganda has found oil, the Ugandan military is getting busy displacing the people who live on the land where the oil is located, and seizing those lands for themselves.
OVER 4,000 residents in seven villages of Kyangwali sub-county in Hoima district face eviction. The land will be used to establish an army base for the protection of the oil reserves in the region.
The residents, led by their local leaders and the MP for Buhaguzi, Tomson Abwooli Kyahurwenda, have vowed to resist the eviction saying the land was inhabited by their ancestors.
The land in question measures about 15 square miles and covers the villages of Katikara 1, Katikara 2, Kituti Kasonga, Kabenena, Ngurwe and Ngoma.
Kyahurwenda has written to the defence minister, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, protesting the army’s ‘illegal’ demarcation of the disputed land.
He said officials from the prime minister’s office had demarcated the land.
Kyahurwenda said the officers led by a man only identified as Bataali, had marked the land.
“I seek your urgent intervention. Change your decision to grab the land whose owners have had it customarily since time immemorial,” the letter, also copied to the Prime Minister said.
The Kitakara LC I chairman, Mugenyi Tibamwenda, said army officers had planted mark-stones claiming they had acquired the land.
He said residents had abandoned agriculture because of fear that they would be evicted from their land soon.
Tom Muhe Bigabwenkya, a sub-county councillor warned of serious consequences for the National Resistance Movement during the 2011 general elections.
The mid-western regional Police commander, Marcellino Wanitto, has promised to take up the matter to ensure that it is resolved amicably.
And from June 24:
High ranking army officers are forcefully grabbing land in the oil rich belt of Amuru District, the security coordinator in-charge of oil exploration in the area, Lt. Col. David Kagoyo, has said.
“I have reliable information from some sources that some army officers are forcefully grabbing people’s land in Amuru,” Lt. Col. Kagoyo said during Nebbi District’s oil exploration stakeholders meeting last week.
Amuru lies in the oil belt licenced to Heritage Gas company stretching from south of Panyimur to North of Wadlai along the Nile river.
The LC5 Chairman Nebbi, Mr John Pascal Wapokra, was non-committal on the land grabbing question, saying the matter is before court.
Lt. Col. Kagoyo demanded that before anything is done, the land ownership issue should be settled first before the oil drilling takes place since it could jeopardise the gains that the government and development partners have made.
The discovery of the oil wells in Amuru, which was created out of Gulu District, has created anxiety over land ownership in the area.
Area residents who spoke to this newspaper said the incident has created fear that they might lose their land.
Similarly, due to its oil potential, land grabbing is at a high level in Buliisa District.
The US continues to train and supply the Ugandan military, the UPDF. Uganda is a favored partner of the US Africa Command. Pictured above is just one of many training programs. If people are pushed off their traditional lands, the lands they live on and the lands they farm, where are they going to go, and what are they going to do? If the soldiers evicting them are armed and trained by the United States, how will they feel about the United States? Evicting these people creates a growing pool of internally displaced persons who have a legitimate grievance against their government, and against all those involved in extracting, in fact stealing, their resources. They will be able to see, but not to share wealth some of which should be legitimately theirs. That some of these displaced people may be lured into terrorism as a response is something that can be predicted and avoided. To date, no one seems interested in preventing the problem before it starts. So far the approach is first create the problem, then waste lives and resources fighting it.