Kibaale residents petition Speaker over UPDF, Police evictions

Residents of Kibaale have accused the UPDF and Police of illegal evictions from their land, which is claimed by the National Forestry Authority (NFA).

The residents, led by Phillips Bikora, petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, saying that the NFA, Police and Army continued with brutal evictions, despite a court injunction granted in February 2014.

“The evictions have affected infrastructural developments in the area including schools, churches, roads and local administrative units,” said Bikora.

The petitioners are from the subcounties of Bubango, Nyamarunda, Kabasekende and Mugarama in Buyanja County, Kibaale district.

Bikora said that the Kibaale District Land Board had surveyed and allocated the land to the residents in 2006. However, Bikora said, the NFA showed up and claimed they had encroached on Kagombe Central Forest Reserve in 2013.

The over 1,000 petitioners sued the NFA leading to the injunction.

“The NFA, UPDF and Police have disobeyed the order; we have started losing interest in some government institutions like the Judiciary since its orders are not respected,” said Bikora.

The petitioners accused the UPDF and Police of raping women and girls and preventing children from accessing school due to lack of food, shelter and healthcare.

As the petitioners prepared to meet the Speaker, the media reported that a joint operation of NFA, Police and UPDF had arrested another seven people, after an earlier operation netting an equal number, clearing the Forest Reserve.

“We are seeking your intervention by interpreting the role of the Judiciary and government statutory bodies including NFA,” said Bikora.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, said the petitioners’ case was grace considering that it involved violence and government agencies ignoring court order. She promised to invite the Inspector General of Police, the NFA to see how demarcation of the Forest Reserve would be done and solve the problem.

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