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Akokoro Residents Demand UPDF Withdrawal from Maruzi Ranch

The soldiers were deployed in 2018 to evict illegal encroachers from Maruzi ranch in Apac District. The Ranch established in 1968 between Ibuje and Akokoro Sub Counties in Apac District, covers 64 square miles (40,960 acres) across 11 villages, with 1,536 households.
Residents accused the soldiers of rape, forcefully homosexually and torture (Photo by Solomon Okabo)

Audio 3

Residents of Acamcabu Village in Akokoro sub-county, Apac District are demanding the withdrawal of Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF soldiers from their area.

The soldiers were deployed in 2018 to evict illegal encroachers from Maruzi ranch in Apac District. The Ranch established in 1968 between Ibuje and Akokoro Sub Counties in Apac District, covers 64 square miles (40,960 acres) across 11 villages, with 1,536 households.

At the time of the deployment, Uganda Livestock Industries Ltd had just issued a 50-year leasehold title for 54 square kilometres of the ranch to Hillside Agriculture Limited to grow palm oil trees and build a factory to extract the oil. But the move was resisted by residents alleging that the volume of the land which was opened was bigger than the original land of the scheme, a move which resulted in land grabbing.

They also argued that Uganda Livestock Industry Ltd was divested and therefore is defunct and did not have the mandate to participate in converting leasehold land to freehold in their own name and subdividing and allowing people to get into the land in question.

Five years later, about 400 residents are up in arms, accusing the proprietor of Hill Side Agricultural Investment of using the soldiers to encroach on their land. They claim that they have been blocked from engaging in any productive activity and are now threatened with severe hunger.

Some residents accused the UPDF soldiers deployed in the area of human rights violations, seeking immediate intervention from the government in the matter.

//Cue in; “Mony oyela kare…

Translation: “I have been tortured by the soldiers severally and we are now surviving on bushmeat. We have no food and the soldiers are raping and grabbing our women.  This is our land and we have nowhere to go”

Cue out… Lango oneno can.”//

William Ogwang, the LCI Chairman of Acamcabu is surprised that the army deployed to evict the encroachers is chasing them out of a village gazetted by the government.

//Cue in; “Acamcabu obedo cell…

Cue out… aromo gwoko joni.”//

Chuck Deome, the Manager of Hillside Agricultural Limited refuted the allegations. Similarly, some soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity denied the allegations of torture and rape.

Lieutenant Richard Ogola, the UPDF Commander in charge of Acholi-inn barracks in Akokoroo sub-county says he has not yet received information about the concerns and referred our reporter to the Apac Resident District Commissioner.

However, the Apac Resident District Commissioner George Abudul, said his office is closely following up on the matter but hastens to add that the UPDF will not leave the area until it is pacified.

//Cue in; “These people are…

Cue out… moro ibed iye.”//