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Ghost Names, Underpayment Frustrate Acholi War-Debt Claimants

They are questioning names that keep featuring on the lists that were verified earlier by the government through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as genuine claimants for the compensation that is meant for people who lost livestock and property between 1986 and 2003 in the areas of Acholi, Lango, and Teso sub-regions.
17 Aug 2022 14:25
Acholi leaders and representatives of war claimants meet the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs at Bomah Hotel in Gulu City in 2021. Photo by Dominic Ochola

Audio 2

Leaders from the Acholi sub-region are disturbed by the continued existence of ghost names on the list of war-debt claimants.

They are questioning names that keep featuring on the lists that were verified earlier by the government through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as genuine claimants for the compensation that is meant for people who lost livestock and property between 1986 and 2003 in the areas of Acholi, Lango, and Teso sub-regions.

Norbert Adyera, the Chairperson of the Acholi War Debt Claimants Association said in 2021, the Association generated and submitted to the Attorney General a list of 23,000 claimants for verification before actual compensation could commence. However, the government slashed it to 16,924 claimants from the districts of Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya, Omoro, Kitgum, Pader, Lamwo, and Agago.

Statistics from the ministry indicated that Gulu and Omoro districts combined had the majority of the claimants with 4,927 claims followed by Agago with 3,393, another 1,995 from Nwoya, 1,983 from Kitgum, 1,470 from Amuru and 1,408 in Lamwo. But Adyera says that 500 of the people on the list from Agago District are non-existent.

Earlier records showed that although the number of claimants verified in the Attorney General’s register for Kitgum district was 1,547, the list on display had 1,983 claimants; an excess of 436 people. Another 50 ghost names were reported in Lamwo District.

Adyera however says that even the 16,924 claimants from across the region have been underpaid without any explanation or justification from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, even though the government had already released 150 billion Shillings to compensate war claimants across the regions. Each region is entitled to 50 billion Shillings.

//Cue in; “Area me Agago…

Cue out…culo ne labany-bany.”//

Paulino Nyeko, 81, of Agung village in Anaka Sub-County and one of the first 17 claimants who dragged the government to court to seek redress says that he received only 12 million Shillings from the government in April as compensation, far below the expectation in comparison to the loss he incurred during the National Resistance Army-NRA war.

Nyeko said that he lost 85 head of cattle, 48 goats, and 77 sheep and he hoped that the government would stick to its promise to pay one million Shillings for each head of cattle.

Kilak South MP, Gilbert Olanya expressed disappointment that several claimants have died without receiving the promised money ever since the enlistment began three decades ago. Olanya blamed the Attorney General for hijacking the verification exercise and paying the claimants without duly involving the leadership of the Association, yet the real claimants are limited by old age-related ailments.

Last month, MPs from Acholi challenged the Attorney General’s office to table a list of the verified claimants before the House.

Compensation for the looted livestock and damages to people's property during the NRA war in the Acholi subregion dates back to 2003. Since then the Government has never cleared the demands of the affected families due to corruption.