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Residents Defy Orders to Vacate Soroti University Land

Fifty five- year-old Geresem Ewotu, says they should be treated as bonafied occupants since they have lived on the contested land for many years.
Some of the affected residents after they were recently evicted by the University authority before the court order

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Some of the residents accused of encroaching on Soroti university land have defied court orders to vacate it. Last week, Justice David Batema issued orders directing 15 families on plot 49 and 50 in Aputon village in Arapai Sub County in Soroti district to vacate within seven days.

 

The orders followed an application by Soroti University accusing the families of encroaching in its land. However, some of the affected families have defied the court order, saying they need more time and compensation before they vacate the disputed land.

 

George Otim, a father of 10, says he has nowhere to relocate his family; since he has occupied the disputed land for over 53 years.

 

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Fifty five- year-old Geresem Ewotu, says they should be treated as bonafied occupants since they have lived on the contested land for many years. He describes the seven day vacation notice issued by court that expired on Wednesday last week as unfair.

 

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Ewotu also asks court to consider the situation under, which they are being asked to vacate, saying they cannot relocate and settle in air.

 

 

 

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Juma Hassan Nyene, the Soroti University Spokesperson ruled out the possibility of compensating the affected families. Nyene insists the affected families should vacate university land or risk forceful eviction. Some of the affected residents are Augustine Erimu, William Ocen,George Otim, Geresem Ewotu and Charles Okiria among others. 

Recently, the Lands, Housing and Urban Development Ministry conducted a boundary opening exercise and found the 15 families inside the university land. The report also shows that 11 families are still occupying 14 acres of land on plots 49 and 50 that belongs to the University. 

The controversy stems from a donation of more than 460 acres of land to Soroti University by Teso College Aloet. Residents in the adjacent village accuse the University of annexing an additional 110 acres of land.

 

The university displaced more than 300 families during its initial attempt to open boundaries on the disputed land in 2015. The move sparked protests when a group of court bailiffs demolished a number of houses sitting on the disputed land.

While residents sought legal redress in Soroti High Court, area leaders appealed to authorities to re-open the boundaries based on the 1952 Map extract of Teso College Aloet land. The latest exercise has since put the number of encroachers at 11. 

 

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