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Over 400 Evicted From Maruzi Ranch

Robert Olinga Otolo, the Akokoro sub county LC III chairperson, blames residents for ignoring several warnings to vacate the disputed land. He says at least 400 people have been evicted amidst protests.
A combined team of soldiers and police have evicted more than 400 local people who have been occupying part of the 64 square kilometer Maruzi ranch in Apac district. The affected have been residents of Acam-cabu village in Akokoro Sub County.

The squatters numbering over 1500 occupied the said land around 1995.They had repeatedly ignored various eviction notices, saying the land belongs to their fore grandfathers. In September, 2015, Lira High Court issued an interim order blocking Apac district authority from evicting the affected residents.

The District is now using the army and police to evict the squatters. UPDF has established a military detach to man security of the area. Bob Okae, the Apac district LC V chairperson insists that the disputed land belongs to government.

Okae said whereas a bigger number of squatters have either vacated the ranch voluntarily or have been evicted forcefully, several others have remained adamant. 

According to Okae, government has allocated part of the land to National Agricultural Research Organization-NARO for livestock breeding and research.

It is said that government wants to transfer the National Livestock Research and Resource Institute (NaLIRRI) from Tororo district to Maruzi Ranch in Apac district.

Francis Ario, one of the affected residents of Acam-cabu village, says he has nowhere to relocate too. Ario condemned the government decision to forcefully evict them from the land.

He says each person is being paid Shillings 400,000 to facilitate their relocation but Ario says the money is insufficient. 53-year-old, Bosco Okwir, a father of seven also says he has nowhere to go. 

Okwir blames government for failing to give them ample time to find alternative land to relocate too.

Robert Olinga Otolo, the Akokoro sub county LC III chairperson, blames residents for ignoring several warnings to vacate the disputed land. He says at least 400 people have been evicted amidst protests.

Maxwell Akora, the Maruzi County Member of Parliament urges residents to vacate the land voluntarily since they were only allowed to occupy it temporarily during the northern Uganda insurgency.

Col (Rtd) Charles Okello Engola, the Defense State Minister denied any army involvement in the alleged forceful eviction. He says the role of the army at the ranch is to provide security to the residents to vacate it peacefully.

Maruzi Ranch sits on 64 square kilometers. In 2004, Apac District local government handed the Ranch to the National Animal Genetic Resource Center and Data Bank.

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