The National Forestry Authority is pushing to evict more than 11,000 residents of Tedi village, Pabbo Sub-county in Amuru District, claiming the land belongs to the forestry body and that the residents are encroachers.
But the residents are protesting the move, saying the over 400 acres of land they have settled on belongs to their ancestors who previously occupied the land.
Mr Grado Olweny, a resident of Tedi Village, Acwero parish in Amuru Sub-county, told this newspaper that he is not ready to move anywhere, saying he has lived on the same land for more than 50 years.
“I’m tired of these people who come daily and claim legitimacy over this land which claim is not genuine,” he said.
He accused their leaders of failing to protect them and allowing intruders and investors to easily throw them out of their lands.
Last week, a team of NFA officials visited Tedi Village and parts of Pabbo Sub-county to inspect the 400-acre piece of land that they allege belongs to them.
Tensions flared after the visit when the officials told residents of the area to start looking for alternative areas of settlement because they will soon be evicted from the land.
Seventy-eight-year-old Jacob Opira said he inherited his piece of land from his ancestral parents who did not have any records showing that the land belongs to NFA.
“I will not leave the land because I have nowhere to go,” he vowed.
He appealed to the recently-formed Acholi Land Forum to intervene in the matter and protect them from eviction.
Mr Samuel Abwola, the district forestry officer, said the land in question was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1960. He said they want to reclaim the land because the NFA central forest reserves in Laroo Division has been taken by Gulu Municipality for expansion of the town to pave way for development.
“All we want is our land for development and by pulling ropes, no development will be realised here,” he urged the residents.
Mr Gilbert Olanya, Amuru Sub-county LC5 councillor and also MP-elect for Kilak County, said some of the affected people have lived on the land since the early 1940s.
“I will petition Parliament over the matter so that it’s solved,” said Mr Olanya. The Uganda Land Alliance officer in-charge of Amuru, Mr Daniel Komakech, however, said they are negotiating with NFA to find peaceful ways of resolving the matter.