Principal Judge takes over case of nine defendants affected by CPF construction project in Buliisa

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Some of the PAPs speak to Kazi-njema News reporter at Masindi High Court today.

The Principal Judge has taken over the case involving the Attorney General (AG) and nine people who were affected by the oil Central Processing Facility (CPF) construction project in Buliisa District.

The AG dragged the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) to court on September 29, 2020, after they rejected the money government wanted to pay them as compensation for the loss of their land.

The PAPs rejected the money on grounds that it was unfair and they preferred land for land compensation.

The respondents appeared before Masindi High Court today to hear the ruling on the application by the AG seeking an interim court order seeking to allow government deposit the respondents’ compensation money on an account as hearing of the main application that the AG filed last week continues.

However, the Masindi High Court Assistant Registrar, Mr Simon Kintu Zirintusa, told the respondents that the AG had requested the principal judge to take over the case so that it can be expeditiously heard as Masindi High Court does not currently have a judge after Justice Paul Wolimbwa Gadenya was injured in a road accident.

Mr Zirintusa accordingly told the respondents represented by Mr Daniel Omara of Paul Byarugaba & Co Advocates that the case is now beyond him after handing the file to the principal judge.

He also told the respondents to wait for the communication from the principal judge on how the case will proceed.

Speaking to journalists after court about Mr Zirintusa’s communication, Mr Omara said the action was good as the case needs to be expeditiously handled since it is a matter of national importance.

Audio: Omara on principal judge (English)

The respondents decried the delay to dispose of the case that they said increasing their suffering since they wanted land on which they will continue with their previous activities.

They insisted that they are not against the government project but they are fighting for their rights.

“We have our lawyers. We are ready to go wherever the government wants us to go and we are fighting for our right. No, we don’t want to sabotage the government programme. But if the government comes out to do what we prefer, there is no problem. The government established two options including cash compensation and land for land,” one of the respondents told Kazi-njema News.

“We as a family, we opted for land for land. We lost a family land that we were all using. We are farmers now we are sharing a very small piece of land. We are suffering. We are not failing the government project. But we want the government to give us land so that we can have peace,” he continued.

Audio: Respondent on suit (Runyoro/Rutooro)

The respondents were part of the more than 640 residents who were displaced from Kasinyi village in Ngwedo sub-county where government and the Total E&P- an oil company intend to construct the facility.

The rest of the residents accepted the Shs3.5m per acre compensation that government offered for their land but the nine rejected it as they wanted land for land compensation.

This prompted the AG to drag them to court for allegedly sabotaging the project.

In his September 29, 2020 suit, the AG wants court to allow government to deposit more than Shs368.8m to the respondents accounts and also court to allow the project to proceed.

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