Mpigi — At least 680 people at Bukiina village in Bunjakko Sub-county, Mpigi District face eviction from a 371-acre piece of land said to be owned by a one Mr Eria Mambule.
In a letter dated August 30 to the area local leaders, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, Mr Mambule issued a two-month ultimatum to the residents to vacate the land, stating that he wanted to hand it over to a private developer for construction of a beach and personal enterprises.
According to Mr Richard Muganga, the LCI chairperson, both the said landlord and those facing eviction claim ownership of the contested land. The two parties also claim to be in possession of land titles.
"He (landlord) said we are squatters and criminals who shouldn't stay on his land yet some of us have titles on the same land. We asked him to sit and negotiate with residents to look for a resolution over the dispute but he kept a deaf ear," said Mr Muganga.
"What should we do? Our leaders should intervene before a crisis erupts because we are ready to fight for our treasure, our wealth and ancestral grounds," Mr Muganga stressed during a meeting called to forge a way forward over the disputed land on Monday.
However, Mr Simon Peter Kawuki, the founder of African Fraternity for Justice, Peace and Development (Afrojped), a non-governmental organisation offering free legal services to the financially disadvantaged in Mpigi asked landlords to always settle land related issues amicably.
"If landlords continue being harsh and the government fail to prevail over land grabbers, the country may plunge into anarchy. Let evictees either be compensated or resettled to create peace in our communities," he advised.
When contacted to comment on the matter, Mr Mambule said: "It is true the land is mine and they (residents) should vacate immediately because I want to develop it. I know there are only 43 squatters on my land but we are in negotiations to see how they get compensated. Let others squatters vacate because I don't know them."
Daily Monitor independently established that the landlord also opened up criminal cases against some of the residents including the village council at Buwama Police Station for trespass, threatening violence and causing damages to property.
When contacted, police said they are still investigating the matter.
Mr Peter Mutuluza, the Mpigi District chairperson, said forceful evictions are rampant and expressed concern over the increasing land grabbing in the area.
Mr Mutuluza however accused security officers and local council leaders of fueling land wrangles in areas of Buzaami, Kasawo, Nabyewanga, Muduuma, Nkozi, Ggolo, Buseebwe, Kirebejjuko, Kyagalanyi and Mpigi Town Council, alleging that they conspire tycoons to torture residents.
"I get at least eight land-related cases on daily a basis but I blame some security officers who connive with land grabbers to evict residents. Some local leaders endorse the sale of land to multiple buyers," he added.
Mpigi is one of the districts currently facing several land wrangles arising out of clashes between residents, landlords and security organs.