The State House Directorate of Lands has ordered the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers to cease operations and withdraw from a disputed land at Lebngec Upper Village, Longulu Sub-county in Nwoya District.
The officials were in the district for a fact-finding mission on March 24 following a petition to the President’s office in which 246 residents asked to restrain the army from torturing and assaulting them.
Speaking during the meeting at Lebngec Upper Village, Mr Edward Sunday Ochieng, the assistant private secretary to the President on Lands, said the soldiers were not only deployed illegally but had blocked locals and registered land owners from accessing their properties.
“The land belongs to Uganda Land Commission and if he [Capt Emmanuel Oloya Luger, a UPDF officer attached to UPDF 3rd Division] brings soldiers to guard the land, he is not only violating the rights of the other land users but also illegally claiming ownership of land,” Mr Ochieng said.
In November 2020, Capt Oloya deployed a team of seven soldiers to guard the land. The team also forcefully evicted 31 families and fenced the land.
While evicting the residents, Capt Oloya said he was carrying out the evictions on the orders of State House.
When asked during the meeting to explain his actions, Capt Oloya instead told the team to challenge him in court.
Although he claimed that the soldiers were his bodyguards and did not assault anyone, Capt Oloya could not prove that the soldiers were assigned to him as bodyguards from the UPDF 4th Division.
“I am asking the District Police Commissioner (DPC), DISO, and the security team who are here to remove that gate today, let Capt Oloya go to court himself. Let it be removed and we see his soldiers kill us,” Mr Ochieng said.
Meanwhile, Lt Patrick Mindra, the Nwoya UPDF commandant, said the army was investigating the accusations against the soldiers and that the culprits would be prosecuted.