A group of Tooro subjects who are walking on foot to Kampala to demand for a return of Kingdom assets have briefly halted the walk after one of them collapsed.
Herbert Mugisa, the Local Council 3 Chairperson for South Division in Fort Portal Municipality, collapsed this afternoon as the subjects were approaching Buloba trading centre, some 15 kilometres from Kampala.
In a telephone interview, Vincent Mugume, the Kingdom’s deputy information minister, who is part of the subjects, said that Mugisa collapsed due to exhaustion.
According to Mugume, the 130 subjects mainly youths have pitched camp at the compound of Buloba Church of Uganda.
They have requested for permission from the church authorities to allow them spend a night there.
Mugume added that they will set off from Buloba by foot on Wednesday morning and present their petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.
Mugisa has been key in mobilizing the youths to bring reforms in Tooro Kingdom. Last year, he was the chairperson organizing committee for the 18th coronation anniversary of King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV.
On Saturday, the subjects under their umbrella group, Amacumu n’Ebitara bya Rukirabasaija, literally meaning the King’s Spears and Swords, started a four-day-walk from Fort Portal to Parliament in Kampala to present a petition to the Speaker of Parliament, demanding for the return of the kingdom’s assets held by the central government.
On Sunday, the youths spent a night at District headquarters in Kyegegwa, one of the properties they are demanding from the central government. At the headquarters, they were received by the local community who prepared a meal for them.
The walk comes a week after more than 70 youths from Tooro and some kingdom ministers visited the Buganda Kingdom prime minister, Charles Peter Mayiga, who reportedly inspired them not to give up on their demands to have the assets returned.
Tooro authorities argue that failure by the government to return the property has affected the kingdom financially.
They say that if they are returned, the kingdom can rent them out and get income to sustain its activities and improve its financial base.
During the 18th coronation anniversary held in Fort Portal in September last year, Omukama Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, his Prime Minister Dr Stephen Kaliba and several other Kingdom officials all spoke of the need for government to return the assets commonly referred to as Ebyaitu. President Museveni, who was the chief guest promised to return the properties, but didn’t specify when.
The Kingdom is demanding for more than 150 assets including land and buildings from the government. The assets are located in Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo and Kyegegwa districts. The Kingdom also has assets in Kasese and Bundibugyo, which were formerly under Tooro Kingdom.
Some of the assets include large chunks of land that are currently being occupied by squatters especially in the counties of Mwenge and Kyaka in present day Kyejonjo and Kyegegwa district respectively. There is also land in Bunyangabu County, Kabarole district.
Early this year, the Attorney General Peter Nyombi sent a copy of the agreement for the return of kingdom assets to King Oyo, but it was returned to the government because it didn’t include some of the kingdom assets in the districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo.
Some of the properties claimed by Tooro Kingdom
78 land titles
Saaza and Gombolola headquarters
Butiiti Tea Estates in Kyenjojo district
Oruha Tree Plantation in Kyenjojo district
Forest Estates in Kyenjojo
Mineral Salts at Lake Katwe
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Katonga Game Reserve
Tooro-Semuliki Game Reserve
Stone and Sand quarry at Kazingo, Kabarole
Limestone at Dura in Kamwenge