Ayugi-Pugwang Cooperative Society demand UPDF to vacate their land

AMURU – Members of the Ayugi-Pugwang Cooperative Society Limited in Pabo sub-county and Town Council in Amuru district are demanding Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) to vacate their land.

The land measuring 500 acres was reportedly given to the government through Ministry of Agriculture in a joint venture deal in 1984 in exchange for a tractor to tilt land belonging to members of Ayugi-Pugwang cooperative society.

Sabino Ochan, the Secretary of Ayugi-Pugwang Cooperative Society Limited says, their joint venture deal with the government was interrupted when President Idi Amin took over power, changing the name and ownership of the land to a state farm.

Ochan says, several efforts by members of the cooperative to take back the land for use has been futile as the UPDF continue to use the land.

“The cooperative society has since the joint venture deal never benefited from using the land, which was only given to the government in a partnership to support the cooperative. Today, our efforts to take charge and use our land has never yielded any fruits,” Ochan says.

According to Ochan, while addressing the State Minister for Defence and Veteran Affairs, Jacob Oboth Oboth at the Pabo Town Council Hall, there have been many people including UPDF Officers trying to illegally survey and document the land on which the “state farm” sits.

“Many people have been coming here trying to survey the land in question, with some claiming to have come from the State house and others from the UPDF, for us as the society and the community, we want this issue to first be settled before any agricultural or documentational activities takes place. This is the stand of the people,” Ochan asserts.

In 2012, angry members of the cooperative society and community members uprooted and destroyed markstones planted by one, Lt Col Francis Obwona, who had served as the farm manager during the insurgency.

Angello Ouma, one of the former tractor drivers at the farm during the joint venture days, says the illegal government takeover of the land has crippled their efforts to fight poverty, which was the major vision of the cooperative society.

Ouma says, even when discussions are ongoing to have the cooperative society repossess the land, some of them who devoted their lives and provided services need to be compensated.

Jacob Oboth Oboth, the Minister of State for Defense and Veteran Affairs while responding to the demand of the community members suspended any documentation of land activities on the land in question until the matter has fully been resolved.

Oboth says further engagements with the cultural institution, and members of the cooperative society as they explore all the other options to see that both the government and landowners benefit.

Lucy Akello, the Amuru district Woman Member of Parliament is however worried that this process might take too long which has been the case with most of the people who have tried to handle the issue before.

Akello says, many people have labelled the Acholi people as violent especially on matters related to land ownership and disputes, which is untrue.

“The more time we take to handle simple issue, the more it agitates the affected people and this is where people begin to boil because their livelihoods are being affected, that’s why most times we see the Acholi people tend to get violent,” Akello explains.


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