The more than 500 families that were evicted from their homes on approximately 5 square miles of land in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties in the Hoima district have been blocked from returning to their homes.
The families comprising mainly cultivators and pastoralists were ejected from their homes in Waaki North, Kapapi Central, Waaki South, Runga, and Kiryatete villages in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties in February by a team of police officers backed by private guards in February this year.
The officers torched more than 50 homes and killed an unspecified number of animals including cows and goats. The residents are feuding with Hoima city tycoon, Moses Asiimwe, a tycoon, who they are accusing of conniving with security to grab their land.
Some of the evictees have since pitched camp at Rwenyana Gospel Church in Kapaapi sub-county while others are scattered in the neighboring villages where they sleep in the cold. On February 22, 2023, the Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, Minister, Judith Nabakooba rushed to Hoima and met the affected people.
While addressing the evictees at Rukola village in Kapapi sub-county, Nabakooba ordered them to return to their land, saying they were evicted unlawfully since there was no court order. She also noted that the families were evicted during night hours, which is contrary to the law. She directed the Hoima District Security Committee to provide security to the evictees as they return to their land and ordered the immediate withdrawal of private security guards from the contested land.
Nabakooba also directed the immediate release of the eleven people who were arrested and charged with criminal trespass and malicious damage for opposing the unlawful eviction exercise. However, two weeks after Nabakooba’s directives, the affected residents are still languishing in untold suffering as they have been blocked from accessing their homes.
According to the evictees, days after Nabakooba’s directives, they attempted to return to their homes but were blocked by Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF soldiers deployed on the contested piece of land. Margret Mirimo, one of the evictees told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that when she attempted to access her home, soldiers threatened to arrest her.
Patrick Okumu, another victim, says that their efforts to return to their homes have been frustrated by the soldiers. He accuses the government of turning a deaf ear to their suffering. Annet Kirabo, also a victim explains that the government promised to deliver food relief but to date, nothing has been delivered yet they are being denied the opportunity to access their land.
Chris Bahemurwaki, the Kapapi sub-county LC V councilor, says says that the current situation is beyond their control adding that the evictees are in total suffering. He says after the minister’s intervention, people thought peace would return to the area but the situation is intolerable.
David Karubanga, the Kigorobya county Member of Parliament, says that they are still engaging the ministry of Lands to ensure that the evictees are helped to return to their land. He further explains that they are engaging the ministry of defense to find out who deployed soldiers on the contested land even after the Lands minister ordered the evictees to return to their homes.
Rogers Mbabzi, the Hoima Resident District Commissioner-RDC neither reported nor returned our repeated calls to his cellphone for comment on the matter.