Two residents of Namabasa village, Namabasa Sub-County in Mbale District are nursing injuries at Mbale Referral Hospital after they were allegedly attacked by the followers of Pastor Micheal Mukhono of Mt Elgon Independent Baptist Mission Church.
Police identified the injured residents as Micheal Gimunye and Sam Giruli. They were reportedly attacked and beaten while trekking to their gardens on Monday morning.
It is alleged that the Pastor Mukhono's followers accused the duo of conniving with other residents in the area to grab land amounting to over 110 acres, which they say legally belongs to Pastor Mukhono.
When the residents heard that their colleagues had been attacked, they also organised and marched to the pastor's home as they chanted slogans and threatened to burn the Pastor's house and church.
However, police led by District Police Commander (DPC) Fred Ahimbisibwe responded in time and managed to disperse the angry residents using teargas and live bullets before they could reach the pastor's home.
Ahimbisibwe urged the residents to remain calm. He noted that relevant authorities would intervene and solve their problems.
"I want to request you to remain calm. I also assure that these acts by the pastor will not be tolerated," he said.
It is said that the residents have for long been at loggerheads with the pastor.
They accuse him of grabbing their land and torturing them whenever they speak out.
"He has employed various means to keep us in silence as he continuously grabs our land using corruptible means," Mr Moses Musila, one of the residents, said.
Mr Musila said Pr Mukhono settled in the area 15 years ago.
"After settling in this area, he went ahead and established a church and started other projects. After that, he embarked on grabbing people's land. He has so far grabbed almost everyone's land in this area," he said.
Mr Stephen Wayisi, another resident said that Mukhono and his followers have become robbers, saying they have on several occasions put up an illegal road block to deny them access to their respective homes.
"We want him to vacate this area if peace is to prevail. But if the status quo remains as it is now, we are willing to lose our lives," he said
Mukhono told Daily Monitor that the residents are after him because they want to grab his 110 acres of land, which he acquired legally.
"They want to kill me so that they can take over my land," he said.
Recently, Mukhono was reportedly kidnapped but rescued by the boda boda riders from his home in Malukhu Estate, Industrial Division in Mbale Town.
Ms Rehema Wandeka, a councillor representing Doho parish, said several attempts to have a dialogue between the residents and pastor have not yielded results.
"The pastor has formed his parallel local council administration unit, which is illegal. He has his own executive committee. These are among the issues that need to be addressed," she said.
The LC3 chairman, Mr Halid Sebujjo, said the government should intervene to restore peace in the area.
"There is not peace in the area. People are living in fear," he said.
Earlier, the Elgon Regional Police Commander, Mr Abraham Betongyenza told Daily Monitor that the pastor is wanted by police over criminal cases.
"The Pastor is wanted. He is supposed to appear in court. He should not confusing you," Mr Betongyenza said, adding that the pastor has cases of criminal trespass, and causing grievous body harm to locals.