23 June 2010

Uganda: 'Top Govt Officials Are Scrambling for Oil Land'

Kampala — Top Government officials are apportioning themselves land in the oil-rich Albertine region in western Uganda, Parliament heard on Tuesday.

The MP for Buliisa, Stephen Biraahwa Mukitale, told the House that powerful people in government had taken surveyors to areas around the oil wells and availed titles to themselves.

He said he reported the matter to the resident district commissioner and the Police in Masindi, but no action had been taken.

Mukitale also expressed fear for his life. "I have been told that I am a nobody and that I should stop interfering with powerful people, or else, I will be crushed. I have come out so that if anything happens, you are aware," he told MPs.

He said: "All the oil wells outside the national park in Buliisa have been claimed by these mafia."

He said people are also scrambling for land in Kabolwa, Waiga, Bugana Butyaba and Kikonko villages.

Mukitale said there is connivance with insiders.

"What a coincidence that wherever they dash and buy off the land, a few months later a new well is discovered. They have informers in government, who tell them where the oil wells are," Mukitale said.

He demanded that Parliament directs that land ownership in the Albertine region be investigated.

"We don't want an Ogoni in this area," he said, referring to the embattled oil-rich area in Nigeria.

Dr. Francis Epetait (FDC) said the Government had defied directives from Parliament to make public the oil agreements and warned that if the matter was not handled well, it would spell disaster.

The Government chief whip, Daudi Migereko, who represented the Prime Minister, said the Government directive is that no land titles are issued for the land in question.

He asked to be given time to consult with the relevant ministries before making a statement to Parliament.

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