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Over 250 Families Displaced in Deadly Land Conflict in Amuru

The conflict stems from an application to the Amuru District Land Board by the administrators of estates of late Yasoni Ojwang on 7 May 2021 for grant of freehold tenure of land measuring 1,353.7 hectares (5.2 square miles) in Langeta village, Pawel parish in Opara Sub-County.
27 Nov 2021 11:02
Some women and children displaced by the Pawel land conflcit in Amuru District. Photo by Dominic Ochola

Audio 4

A deadly land conflict has displaced at least 250 families in Amuru District.

The conflict stems from an application to the Amuru District Land Board by the administrators of estates of late Yasoni Ojwang on 7 May 2021 for grant of freehold tenure of land measuring 1,353.7 hectares (5.2 square miles) in Langeta village, Pawel parish in Opara Sub-County.

Sitting on 6 May, the Land Board sat and considered the application by the administrators of the estates namely Christopher Dwala, Godfrey Acaye Ojwang, Robert Otto Ojwang, James Ocaya and John Lony Ojwang.

The District Land Board received a letter of complaint against the grant of freehold occupancy to the applicants, prompting the district Chief Administrative Officer on 25 October 2021, to write to the Opara Sub-County chief, directing the inspection of the boundary of the contested land.

Subsequently, the proposal angered concerned members of the Palaro clan who rose up in arms against Ojwang’s family in an attack to dispute the size of the land in question saying it was too big and exaggerated.

The deadly attack that occurred on 22 October 2021 left four people from late Ojwang’s family critically injured, several of their grass thatched houses were torched, while dozens of livestock were looted causing displacement of families. To date, tensions remain high in the area.

Dennis Ojok Emma, 25, was injured after he was shot with an arrow that got stuck in his wait. Ojok told URN that the attackers accused him of being a mercenary hired by the Ojwang family to fight on their behalf.

John Lony Ojwang, a victim of the attack said, he had gone to the family kraal before he met men armed with bows and arrows, spears and machetes who hit him several times with a hammer resulting in multiple injuries with a fractured arm.

//Cue in; “Cungu ma acungu …'//

Cue out…angeyo gimo keken.”//

James Oloya P’Micele, Pawel Kal said15 members of their families were arrested though two were later released on trumped up charges, adding that those still under detention have been tortured by security.

//Cue in; “Dog ot pa…'//

Cue out…enoni ikom gi.”//

Susan Aloyo, 28, a mother of four says her husband disappeared on the day of the attackd and has never been seen. She said their crops that were due for harvest and livestock among others were plundered by men armed with clubs, spears and axes who have been patrolling their village to threaten their security, prompting them to vacate the contested land.

//Cue in; “Kiwango otoo…'//

Cue out…watye kabuto kec.”//

Speaking to URN, George Ocan, the area Councilor explained that the land size being claimed by Ojwang’s family is too huge that it has sparked outrage among other occupants of the contested land.

//Cue in; “The acreage that…'//

Cue out…belongs to them.”//

While other sources argued that Ojwang’s family is claiming the entire sub-county, Kitara Lapyem Obong, the Secretary for District Land Board disputed the allegations as unfounded, and asserted that such allegations are meant to incite the public.

Amuru Resident District Commissioner Geoffrey Osborn Oceng says they are doing all that is necessary to mediate the land conflict to mitigate the violence and bring an end the hostility and restore normalcy. He also said he has directed that those arrested, should be released to pave way for dialogue.

Elders in the area including local leaders disclosed that the late Ojwang acquired a huge chunk of land in the area in the early 1900s during colonial era. Being a polygamist, the leaders say Ojwang was married to over 40 women and reared at 4,000 livestock on the in question.

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