More than 200 families in Morulokwangat Parish, Opopongo Sub-county in Abim District have dragged the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Attorney General to court over the 2019 and the 2021 evictions that left their properties and crops destroyed.
The case has been lined up for hearing before Justice Henry Adonyo at Soroti High Court.
The complainants filed the case in June 2021 through their representatives of the Engoru, Mutebi and Company Advocates.
The residents led by Mr Aloysius Solomon Okiror Oriada aver that between December 15, and December 27, 2019, and between February 1, 2021 and February 11, 2021, UWA through their officer, Capt Charles Okuta, used inhumane ways of destroying their properties and their settlements in Lokopo Sub-county, claiming that the land in question is part of Bokora Wildlife Reserve, but without proof.
Last Friday, Justice Adonyo postponed plans to visit the contested land in Opopongo Sub-county following another abrupt commitment.
Mr Oriada told Daily Monitor on Wednesday that he lost nine houses, 100 acres of cassava, and 30 acres of soya bean and groundnuts, which he claims were harvested by the UWA rangers and sold.
Mr Samuel Okello, another resident, said he lost 90 acres of cassava during the eviction.
"What I lost is estimated at Shs50m because at that time, a kilogramme of cassava was at Shs800. If I had harvested all my 90 acres of cassava, I should have raised that money," Mr Okello added.
Mr Vincent Ocen, the executive director of Sugur Development Agency, which is spearheading the legal process, said the residents are seeking a court declaration that the land in question belongs to the evictees and the actions by UWA were illegal .
"We need compensation for loss of properties and damages incurred during the unlawful eviction under the command of Charles Okuta," he explained.
Mr Ocen said the people also need a permanent injunction against UWA.
However, Capt Okuta, who is jointly sued with UWA, said he was executing work on behalf of UWA.
The UWA communications manager, Mr Bashir Hangi, said people have a right to go to court.