Brig. Kabango told Uganda Radio Network in an interview Friday that illegal land acquisition in the areas of Apaa is the driving factor for the influx of non-natives.
Residents of Apaa Township attend a meeting on Tuesday December 5 at Apaa Primary School in Itirikwa Subcounty, Adjumani district.
Security has revealed an estimated
40,000 illegal foreign settlers entered the disputed Apaa land in the past four
The Fourth Infantry Division Commander
Brig. Michael Kabango disclosed that in just four months, the human population in
the disputed area had shot to over 80,000 from only an estimated 40,000 people.
While Uganda Radio Network can’t
independently verify these figures, Brig. Kabango notes that the majority of
the new entrants into the disputed area are non-natives from either side of
Acholi and Madi.
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Kabango’s statements follow the
recent spate of clashes in the disputed Apaa area, which claimed the lives of
six people, three of whom are from central Uganda and three others from
Local leaders also reported that 11
people sustained injuries during the attacks while hundreds of grass-thatched
huts were destroyed by unknown assailants in a conflict that has spanned for
more than a decade.
Brig. Kabango told Uganda Radio
Network in an interview on Friday that illegal land acquisition in the areas of
Apaa is the driving factor for the influx of non-natives.
According to Brig.
Kabango, land is being sold and hired very cheaply to the non-natives whose
interests are in carrying out charcoal and timber businesses while others are
For instance, Brig Kabango says
from their findings, the locals have been hiring out an acre of land at only
50,000 shillings to those interested in using the land for a year. He says the
high returns over limited investments are a big pull factor for the population
surge on the land.
However, on Tuesday, the army
ordered all the non-natives occupying the areas of Apaa that fall on the gazetted
East Madi Wildlife Reserve and Zoka Central Forest to vacate voluntarily. The eviction
notice targets those who started occupying the area from 2014 to date.
Brig. Kabango says while the army
hadn’t given a specific timeline for the encroachers to leave, the president
had already issued directives that ban the illegal destruction of trees for
charcoal and timber production in the North.
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Although President Museveni issued
an executive order banning commercial charcoal production in North and Northeastern Uganda in March this year, the commercial production of charcoal has
been ongoing in the disputed Apaa area under the watch of security.
Apaa land measuring approximately
827 sq km and under contention between the government, Amuru, and Adjumani
districts, boasts of some fertile strip of land with abundant natural
vegetation that has attracted illegal charcoal dealers from far and wide.
According to the Apaa village LCI
Chairperson Charles Okoya, at least 15 box body trucks that carry between 150-250
bags of charcoal leave Apaa every day. He notes that out of the 36 villages in
Apaa Township, only about seven haven't been affected by heavy tree felling for
Okoya also accused the Police of sidelining
local leaders from monitoring the charcoal trade, a move he says has affected the
implementation of Executive Order No. 3.
Hundreds of non-natives settled
on the disputed land had by Monday started leaving the area voluntarily after
the army sounded eviction notice.
Several of them, the majority
being children and women were by Thursday still stuck in Gulu City after they
ran out of money to facilitate their transportation out of the region.
Since the resurgence of violence in
Apaa over the weekend, the army heavily deployed soldiers at the 501 brigade to
restore peace and provide safety for the residents.
Uganda People’s Defence Forces
Spokesperson Brig. Felix Kulaigye told Uganda Radio Network on Friday that the
army is investigating the former Brigade Commander of the 501 Brigade Col.
Bernard Rubainika Kashemeza over negligence in the recent attacks. Col.
Kashemeza was sacked and replaced with Lt Col. Kenneth Buruga Ahimbisibwe.
Bureau Chief, West Acholi