Acholi Leaders Halt Sale of Customary Land To “Balaalo”

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The Acholi Parliamentary Group Chairperson says the leaders resolved during the meeting that all “ballalo” be evicted immediately from the region and their verification be handled on a case-by-case basis.

He notes that the cattle keepers will be verified after a period of six months by a select committee while they are out of the region to ascertain details of the land they have acquired either through hiring or purchase.

David Lagen Atuka, the Agago County Member of Parliament said the resolution is crucial in ending the exploitation of the cattle keepers on the local populace in the region. He says as leaders, they are in support of the presidential executive order No 3 which calls for the immediate expulsion of the cattle keepers.

The Lamwo District Chairperson Sisto Oyet notes that the majority of the cattle keepers who came in the region didn’t follow the right approach in acquiring the land, adding that they are illegally carrying out commercial cattle keeping.

Oyet said some of the lands currently being used by the cattle keepers were sold by individuals without the consent of the entire clan or household which contravenes the customary land tenure.

The resolution reached is expected to be handed over to the State Minister for Northern Uganda rehabilitation Grace Freedom Kwiyucwyiny.

A select committee composed of legislators, district chairpersons, and Resident District Commissioners from Acholi embarked on the verification of the cattle keepers two weeks ago in Amuru district in a bid to ascertain their identities, the status of the land they are occupying, and compliance with directives from the government.

The team led by Akol embarked on the exercise shortly after the president temporarily suspended the eviction of the cattle keepers in a July 2 letter to the Senior Presidential Advisor in Charge of Defense, also the Chief coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation Gen Salim Saleh.

The exercise however left the legislators from the region divided with a section of the leaders among them Kilak South Member of Parliament Gilbert Olanya, Chua West MP Philip Okin Ojara, Chua East MP Magarette Lamwaka, and Gulu City Woman MP Betty Aol protesting its implementation.

Leaders in the region have accused the cattle keepers of among others exploiting the locals and illegally purchasing large chunks of customary land, fueling conflicts among locals over land and destroying sacred places.

It’s estimated that more than 2,000 cattle keepers majorly from Western Uganda are occupying the districts of Amuru, Nwoya, and Gulu according to statistics from the recent verification exercise.

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