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Land Probe Responds to Apaa Crisis as Complaints Registered Exceed 1,600

Members of the commission of inquiry into land matters addressing the press on Friday at the National Records and Archives Centre.
Members of the commission of inquiry into land matters addressing the press on Friday at the National Records and Archives Centre.

The commission of inquiry appointed by President Yoweri Museveni to investigate mismanagement and fraud of land in Uganda has revealed that it has so far received over 1, buy 600 land related complaints just three weeks into its work.

Justice Bamugemereire who is leading the probe said that 1, pilule 437 complaints have been lodged through the desks set up in Wakiso and Luweero alone, this site while the remaining 219 have been filed at the commission’s Wandegeya based headquarters in Kampala.

In its initial three weeks, the probe conducted open hearings in Kampala and heard testimonies from experts in land matters, opinion leaders, heads of government agencies as well as gathering relevant research. It also listened to sworn testimonies by affected persons in the districts of Luweero and Wakiso where commissioners touched base with some of the pieces of land in dispute.

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Given the growing number of land conflicts countrywide, the commissioners worry that the numbers of complaints could multiply significantly by the time the six month long investigation is completed. However, Bamugemereire said that whereas the probe intends to step out into the countryside to carry out hearings and field visits, the process requires adequate funding which is limited at the moment.

“Resources are not enough especially given that we are an adhoc commission whose funding was not part of the main budget. As a result, we might not be able to fund trips across the whole country. But we are positive that the concerned offices will give a solution,” Justice Bamugemereire told the press.

She also noted that the main themes in the investigation are growing and that some of the cases point to gaps in existing land laws and poor landlord-tenant relations which have resulted into evictions.

The probe committee expressed concern over the ethnic clashes that erupted between the Madi and Acholi people over Apaa land which left 5 people dead and hundreds displaced last week. It is reported that an unknown assailants from Madi armed with bows and arrows launched an attack on Acholi residents in Apaa, Adjumani district over a disputed piece of land.

While responding to questions from journalists on Friday, Commissioner George Bagonza said; “We are following developments in Amur and we are making considerations on how the commission can find a way out.”

“Seeing the events in Apaa, people fighting over boundaries, one would think they are in different countries yet we should be united,” he added.

On her part, Commissioner Joyce Gunze Habaasa revealed that the commission intends to visit the northern part of Uganda although she was hesitant to specifically tell when.

“The North is part of Uganda and yes, we shall visit the region when the appropriate time comes. We have been mapping out hotspot areas which require our intervention,” Habaasa said.

While the probe team admitted that situations such as the one in Adjumani require immediate intervention, they said the commission’s powers, the nature of its work and funding limit how far it can go in providing solutions. Nevertheless, they did say they are ‘studying’ all the ongoing land crises across the country.

The commission also brushed aside statements by opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye a day ago that the ongoing probe won’t bring forth any solutions to the existing land problem in the country.

“Besigye is entitled to his opinion. We have work cut out for us. We don’t have time to argue, only time will tell whether his opinion is correct,” Commissioner Bagonza said.

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