By Mukembo Wilfred
The locals of Sebei Sub region have resolved to drag President Yoweri Museveni along with his government to the East African Court of Justice over illegal land evictions and failed compensation.
The mineral-rich region is made of three districts namely;-Kween, Bukwo and Kapchorwa. Sebei has minerals such as gold, limestone and crude oil as well as tourist attractions like Sipi Falls.
However, the area locals who mainly thrive on farming say they have not benefitted from their natural wealth and on top of that President Museveni’s government forcefully evicted them from their land when it discovered that it has minerals. They say that during the eviction process, some of their colleagues lost their lives while fighting for what rightly belongs to them.
Amon Teka, the Sebei Land claimants Association chairperson, says for over 20 years, they have been moving from office to office to get resettlement and compensation for their 60,000 hectares of land they were kicked off from but to no avail.
“We are going to the East African Court of Justice to sue his Excellency and his government for illegally grabbing our ancestral land and failing to resettle us and also the killings of 40 people in Kween. Mr Museveni through his government has put a lot of houses on our land. Over 3,000 houses have already been built to resettle people from other regions. We want to tell the Prime Minister that that land does not belong to her office,”Mr Teka lamented.
“The land which belongs to 13 clans was titled under this same government to the people of Bulambuli and I want to declare to our brethren who are suffering in Western Uganda, Northern Uganda that these people of long horned cattle, the Bachwezi are taking all the resources of Ugandans and we are vulnerable under one family system of leadership.”
Sofi Chelangat, one of the affected residents also disclosed: ” We are ready to go to Court because formerly we have been running to government to come and rescue us but we realised that there was no intervention. For example, government dignitaries like the Prime Minister have visited our Internally Displaced People’s-IDP camps but up to now we just receive empty promises for our taken land. Now we are joining hands as Sebei region to fight for our land and minerals. That’s why we are going to Court.”
The residents’ decision followed a meeting with Joseph Kabuleta, the leader of National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) whom they narrated their plight to.
Mr Kabuleta who is on a nationwide sensitization campaign premised on protecting Uganda’s national deposits that could be used by citizens to alleviate themselves from poverty, assured the Sebei locals that he will help them file a case before the East African Court on 2nd January, 2022 so that they get justice.
He said residents have decided to run to the East African Court because they feel that Ugandans courts cannot give them a free and fair hearing.
“There’s a huge piece of land-60,000 hectares from which they have been chased and pushed almost to Internally Displaced People’s camps. A huge population of people in a very small area because they are displaced from the land they once owned. Now I’m thankful and grateful to see that these people are planning to lodge a case in the East African Court to seek justice . They have a whole association of land claimers and they have documents from the President’s office, the Prime Minister’s office. They have been trying to seek justice from other fora but failed. Now they have chosen to go to Court as an association. Perhaps they stand a chance to get justice from the East African Court,” Mr Kabuleta stated.
The former presidential candidate however cautioned them that while in court, they should expect challenges because they are going to deal with a strong and deceitful institution called government.
“But we as NEED, we have decided that we shall help them in whichever way we can. We have told them to avoid the usual tactics that are used by this government to destroy a group of people that seeks to get justice. The first tactic is division, they will try to divide them, get ringleaders put them aside, threaten them and offer them inducements to dump the cause. They should be cautious and stay united. If they do that, they will get justice.”
He also asked the locals to stop crying for government help but rather come together to ensure that they fight and benefit from the area natural wealth which is being enjoyed a a few people in power.