Uganda People’s Defense Forces – UPDF has set June 09th as the deadline for evicting hundreds of squatters from the 5th Division quarter guard.
This is the second time; UPDF is moving to evict the squatters from the disputed land belonging to Acholi Pii Military Barracks.
The squatters have established a vibrant commercial center on the disputed land. Last year, Pader district security committee halted the move by UPDF o evict the squatters citing lack of public sensitization after more than 80 households claimed ownership of the land.
The affected households demanded adequate compensation to allow them find alternative land for resettlement. The move prompted the establishment of a select Committee comprising officials from Uganda Human Rights’ Commission, ministry of land housing and urban development, local government and the ministry of defense to investigate the ownership of the land.
The Committee established that the land belongs neither belongs to the residents nor UPDF. The land belongs to Achol Pii Refugee Settlement Camp, which is under the officer of the Prime Minister.
Col. Stephen Mugerwa, the Deputy Commander UPDF 5th Division says the eviction is meant to ensure the safety of residents and government installations. He says despite the findings of the selected committee, the affected residents and Akemokoch community market must be relocated for security reasons.
Col. Mugerwa argues that the long range weapons and artilleries deployed around the military barracks pose very grave danger to residents and those doing business in the market.
He appealed to residents to vacate the area before the June deadline. Julius Nyeko, the Pader senior District Land Officer urge residents to cooperate with UPDF in the interests of development and national security.
However, some of the area leaders are unhappy with the resolve of UPDF to evict residents without compensation. Mathew Onyac, the Akemokoch Village LC1 Chairperson wants the president’s office to intervene in the dispute.
Justine Lungajul, the Pader Resident District Commissioner says ample land has been found at least 1,500 meters to relocate Akemokoch Market from the epicenter of the quarter guard.
Lungajul appeals to business community in the area to start relocating their businesses as arrangements are made to move homesteads.