Police deny ceasing to arrest Rwobunyonyi land conflict murder suspects

Suspects in the Rwobunyonyi land dispute. (Image: Kazi-njema News)

Police have distanced itself from allegations that Hoima district leaders and security officials agreed to cease arrest of Rwobunyonyi land conflict murder suspects to pave the way for the residents’ stability.

ASP Julius Allan Hakiza, the Albertine Regional Police Public Relations Officer, tells Kazi-njema News that the police will not cease to investigate and arrest all those implicated in the crimes committed in relation to Rwobunyonyi land conflict.

According to him, ceasing to hunt and arrest the suspects of murder and car burning, condones criminality; making security irrelevant.

“Those saying we agreed to stop arresting the suspected criminals are lying. Police cannot stop doing its work. What we do not engage in are land matters but our interest in criminal elements shall never cease,” says Mr Hakiza.

He stresses that there is no way the police could let the suspected killers of two people to go scot free yet even those killed had children and other relatives.

Sound bite: Hakiza on police arrests (English)

The police officer was responding to media reports quoting Mr Patrick Rusoke, the Buraru sub-county councillor and Mr Benson Chiche Rukumba the Acting Hoima District Local Government Chairman that they had agreed with security to cease persecution of residents over the crimes committed as the land dispute escalated.

The two leaders had told the media that the resolution to cease arrests was meant to reduce panic for arrests that had forced almost all residents to flee for fear of being arrested under the umbrella of killing people and burning a car.

According to Mr Rusoke, the move had also been reached at to facilitate dialogue between Mr Fred Mugamba, the land title holder and the more than 1,000 residents he describes as squatters as they refer to him as a land grabber.

The Hoima Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Michael Kyakasaari Muramira, also denies they agreed in a security meeting to halt  the arrests.

The conflict over the three-square mile disputed land has so far left two men dead, a car burnt, scores arrested and many more on the concealed list of the wanted which has caused sweeping panic in the two villages of Rwobunyonyi and Kirindasojo in Buraru sub-county, Hoima district.

Human Rights activists have been condemning what they describe as persecution of innocent residents under the umbrella of crime that puts their land rights at risk like it has happened in many places before.

The activists had also demanded for a halt on the arrests and make smart investigations that do not suffocate residents subjected to panic.

Economic activities have since slowed down though police assured that they had no issue with whoever knows they never participated in the crimes.

Mr Bashir Twesigye, the Executive Director for the Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED), challenged the police to investigate the land title that carries elements of fraud like it does with suspected murderers since they are both crimes.

Ms Jenifer Baitwamasa, the Programme Officer at Navigators of Development Association (NAVODA), says many people have already been denied their rights to land since they cannot cultivate for fear of being innocently apprehended and the status quo deteriorates their livelihoods.


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