11 January 2019

Uganda: Entebbe Residents Storm RDC's Office Over Land Eviction

Entebbe — More than 1,000 residents of Bugonga Village in Division A in Entebbe Municipality in Wakiso District on Thursday stormed Entebbe Deputy RDC's Office Hajji Noor Njuuki protesting against their eviction by Mengo minister for trade, marketing and cooperatives Muhamood Thobani.

Armed with placards written on "Uganda is our country Thobani Muhamood shouldn't steal our land", the residents accompanied with their councillors' and area chairman marched to Mr Njuuki office protesting the minister's move to evict them from a disputed land measuring about four acres.

In October last year, the then Entebbe Chief Magistrate, Ms Mary Kaitesi Lukwago Kisakye ordered residents to vacate the disputed land after failing to present evidence proving that it belongs to them. She also ordered that Mr Thobani be given vacant possession of the land and that the defendants pay the costs of the suit.

In her judgment read by the new chief magistrate, Ms Mary Babirye, Ms Kaitesi ruled that Mr Thobani, is the rightful owner of the disputed land, according to evidence he presented before court.

However, the ruling incensed the defendants who accused the trial magistrate of taking a bribe which influenced her ruling.

The residents claim that they have lived on the land for more than 50 years and many of them inherited it from their parents.

"As the area chairman, I can't allow my people to be evicted by the minister who found them on that land. I will fight him until the end. He has a lot of money but why is he acting greedy over this small piece of land?" asked the area LCI chairman Mr Mike Mutebi.

He added that they already appealed in High Court but as a leader, he had to use other avenues.

Ms Betty Auma, one of the residents and defendants in the case, said they appealed in the High Court against the magistrate's ruling.

"We appealed in the High court and what we need is justice. If its dying for our land, we are ready to die but will not allow the minister to take our land for free," she said.

Mr Njuuki said that," Since residents appealed to a higher court, no one will evict them until justice prevails. 1,000 residents is a big number and I can't just sit and look on. In case people come with court orders, inform us in time with the area DPC and he has to come in person but as the RDC, I will not allow anyone to evict you."

He also promised to forward the matter to the president.

However, Mr Thobani said he has been patient with the residents for nearly 12 years.

"This matter has been before court for nearly 12 years. I have been patient with those squatters and I think this is the right time for them to vacate my land and allow me carry out the developments I want," he said.

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