Acholi district councils tasked to enact ordinances to protect land

ACHOLI – The District, Municipal and City Councils of Acholi have been tasked to enact ordinances to protect land. This directive was given by Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) and the cultural institution Ker Kwaro Acholi, following the rampant sale of land which has seen thousands of acres of land in the region bought by investors, cattle keepers and top government officials.

Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister, Ker Kwaro Acholi, the Acholi Cultural Institution says, the rate at which land is being sold is alarming. He says, if the current trend in land sale continues, the Acholi community will lose its identity in the next 5 to 10 years to come.

Olaa says, following a meeting with all the cultural chiefs in Acholi, it was resolved that the sale of communally owned land, swamps, kraals, forests, and cultural sites be banned.

“The cultural chiefs in a meeting held last week have banned the sale of kraals, communally owned lands, swamps and cultural sites because they are not owned by individuals. We have in the past years seen conflicts arise over ownership of kraals, community land, cultural sites and swamps in the Chiefdom which has seen people injured and properties destroyed. For instance, the Amuru hot springs where the hot springs and the kraal was reportedly sold to MP Odonga Otto by a family,” Olaa explains.

Anthony Akol, the Chairperson Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) says, one of the resolutions in the meeting with Ker Kwaro Acholi and other stakeholders was to have all the land titles in the sub-region verified.

This is to ascertain the validity of the titles since several people who are brokering land sale in the sub-region have resorted to selling community land, kraals among others fraudulently.

According to Akol, a vetting committee should also be set in all the districts to regulate the renting and sales of communal land. The district Veterinary Officers would then get approval from the LCs before issuing cattle movement or grazing permit.

Denis Onekalit Amere, the Member of Parliament for Kitgum Municipality says, it has become a trend for jobless youths to broker land sale, which is the major reason for the surge in conflicts over land ownership.

Onekalit wants land brokers either for sale or hire investigated and in case any conflict or dispute arising from their land deal; they are arrested to face the law for fraud.

Rwot Otinga Otto Otuka, the Chief of Lamogi Chiefdom, also the Deputy Paramount Chief of Acholi says, people have taken advantage of the cosmopolitan culture of the Acholi to approach, live and acquire their land.

Otinga says, if the people acquiring land were peacefully coexisting without hurting the cultural setting of the community, there would be no problem.

“Reports of sexual violence, land grabbing, forest destruction and being in possession of firearms have emerged mostly from investors and the Balaalo cattle keepers. We can’t continue living with such people who just want to hurt, grab and destroy the culture and the people of Acholi,” Otinga notes.

Several conflicts over land have over the years emerged in Acholi sub-region including the Madhvani Lakang land saga, Apaa township, among others.

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