10 Local Leaders In Kololo And Lakang Remanded In Prison Since April, On Tramped Up Charges

Dr Olara Otunnu addresses media on Thursday in Gulu after his visit to Gulu Central Prison where 10 local leaders (senior Rwodi Kweri) are on remand. Photo by Sam Lawino

Dr Olara Otunnu addresses media on Thursday in Gulu after his visit to Gulu Central Prison where 10 local leaders (senior Rwodi Kweri) are on remand. Photo by Sam Lawino

At least 10 local leaders from Kololo Parish in Amuru district have silently been detained at Gulu Central Prison on charges of aggravated robberies, since April this year.

The men including two women are charged with three counts of aggravated robberies. They were intitially detained by the Police for nearly two months before being arranged in the lower court and have since been committed to the High Court.

However residents say that the arrests are related to land issues in Lakang and Kololo, an area that has been under litigious conflict and is being claimed by the Madhivani Group of Companies for a sugar factory.

Mr Albert Oloya , one of those in remand and a local leader in the area (Rwot Kweri) told this Paper that they were being framed to silent them from talking about their land rights.

“We are innocently being held here for standing up for our rights to our land, they can continue to keep us in jail but our relatives will continue to defend the land,” Oloya said.

The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) Party leader Ambassador Dr. Olara Otunnu visited the inmates in Gulu Prison after being notified about the fate of the suspects.

“This is a completely Museveni genocidal project. We will use all avenues to defend the land, it will not go,” Otunnu said.

Recently Otunnu visited Kololo and told the residents to resist any effort to giveaway their ancestral land for investment which does not support their interests.

At a press conference last Thursday, Otunnu told journalists at the Northern Uganda Media Resource Center (NUMEC) in Gulu town that the suspects were arrested and are being detained as part of a project of President Yoweri Museveni to instill fear among the population so that he could have an easy walk to grab Amuru land.

Adding that, “ the police has nothing to do with Amuru land, the deployment is the section of the military to arrest, torture and kill the local people in the area , Museveni is using the gun, ignorance, dictatorship and money to grab the land instead  of investors coming to the community.”

“We shall fight them tooth and nail and ensure that our land is not given away to the Madhvani Group of Company, it’s a scheme to line Museveni’s pocket, his family and associates,” Otunnu said.

On the issue of Southern Sudan, the UPC party President said that the Uganda government should respect the sovereignty of Southern Sudan and avoid peddling into its internal politics.

The Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) has always been deployed in South Suda, and more have recently entered Juba to bring about order following an alleged coup attempt by Dr Riek Machar.

Adding that, “the issue of unity must be addressed to unite all the tribes in Southern Sudan.”

Otunnu rabished the claim that he is behind General David Sesuja, the renegade security intelligence chief who has jumped ship and exiled in London.

“I have no clue about General Sesuja but my position stands with truth telling and I will not change I was telling Ugandan and the World that the votes were rigged, and I urged people not to vote, don’t you now see the truth coming out?”Otunnu asked.

He said that the statements made by Sejusa were a corroboration of his plea to what was happening in Uganda’s politics.

Utilities

The 10 leaders from Amuru were arrested on 27th April 2013 and after three weeks at Amuru police station, they were charged and remanded on the 05th June 2013.

They were all charged with three counts of Aggravated Robbery except one.

On the 13th October 2012, one local leader who was at the forefront of opposing the Amuru land grabbing project was extrajudicially killed in Kololo and his body dumped in River Aker.

Over 40, 000 hectares of land is being demanded by the Madhvani Group of Companies for sugar cane growing in Lakang and Kololo in Amuru district.

Last year the High Court in Gulu ruled against the locals (petitioners) that the land in question is public land and handed it over to Madhivani.

Kilak County Member of Parliament Gilbert Olanya has said that the charges against the local leaders were triumphed up and aimed at intimidating Acholi on their land ownership rights.

 

“They are being intimidated by our own, Acholi should fight at all costs and if it costs us our blood to defend the land, so be it,” Olanya said.