Kingdom Minister embroiled in land conflict with more than 500 residents

HOIMA – Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom (BKK), Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, John Appolo Rwamparo Rwakiswaza is embroiled in land conflict with more than 500 residents in Hoima district over land.

The affected residents are from Kihohoro, Kakira-ngobye and Busanga villages in Buraru sub-county in Hoima district.

The two parties are fighting over land measuring 400 hectares with a land title of 1983 in the names of Herbart Kimera Rwakiswaza, who is Rwamparo’s late father.

The residents made their plea during a meeting convened by Bugahya County Member of Parliament, Pius Wakabi in Kihohoro village on Friday following a petition by the residents seeking the MP’s intervention into the matter.

Moses Kugonza, the Chairperson Kihohoro village expressed concern over the increasing harassment by Rwamparo’s agent and security.

Kungonza claimed that the Rwamparo is using armed men to harass and arrest them as one way of intimidating the residents so that they can vacate the land of their ancestors.

According to him, the conflict between the residents and Rwamparo started early in 2000 when Rwamparo started claiming the land.

According to the document they presented to the MP, in 2002 George Kolekwa and 27 others appealed in Fort Portal’s High Court after Rwamparo had won a case of trespass on his land situated and known as Bujenje plot 17 block 15 which he had filed at Hoima Grade One Magistrate Court.

According to the document in 2007, the High Court in Fort Portal presided over by Justice Rugadya Atwoki ruled in the favour of the appellants and ordered the respondent Rwamparo to pay all the court costs to the plaintiffs.

The residents claimed that instead of respecting the court ruling and paying the costs as the court had directed, Rwamparo resumed threats of evicting the residents. According to them, since 2007 Rwamparo has been silent adding that he resumed the claim early this year.

Kyamanywa Tadeo, a resident of Kakira-ngobye village says, people are leaving in fear because of the eviction threats by Rwamparo.

He noted that some people especially the village leaders are no longer sleeping in their houses in fear of being arrested at night by the agents of Rwamparo who always invade their villages with armed men in police and Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) uniforms.

He noted that they have several times petitioned the area leaders and the office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for intervention in vain and demanded the president intervenes in the matter.

Robert Mwanga, the Buraru sub-county Chairman asked the government to compensate Rwamparo under the land fund and leave the land to the residents.

“These people have stayed here for decades, where does he expect them to go, if it is true that this land belongs to him (Rwamparo)? Let the government come out and compensate him and leave our people in peace,” Mwanga demanded.

In his response MP Wakabi, expressed concern over the increasing land conflicts resulting in rich people grabbing the land of the poor.

He noted that there is a need to fight for the rights of the poor and promised to support the residents in fighting for their land. He called on the residents to remain calm and continue utilizing their land saying, nobody will evict them without following the laws.

The Hoima District Police Commander (DPC) Ruth Tukamusima denied police involvement in the land wrangle and promised to follow up on the matter to ascertain the security personnel who are being used to harass and threaten residents.

When contacted, Rwampaaro said the land legally belongs to his family since they secured it in the 1970’s. He explained that residents are just encroaching on their land saying that the land has a title which was processed in the right process.

He noted that in 2007, the High Court in Fort Portal which was presided over Justice Rugadya Atwoki did not cancel the title adding that Justice Rugadya only dismissed the case because he (Rwamparo) did not appear in court on that the day of hearing the case because the appellants did not serve him.

He challenged the residents to go to court instead of trading rumours that they are being evicted on their land which they have no ownership.

“I am engaging and informing them that this land belongs to me, but they failed to understand. They are talking about winning the case, how did they win the case? The case was just dismissed because I did not appear in court since I was not served and so my land title was not cancelled. Recently, they went in Masindi land registry and made search and found my title there now what are they talking about?” Rwamparo defended himself.

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