The state minister for lands Sam Mayanja on Thursday rushed to Kabwoya sub-county in Kikuube district after allegations that security tortured and harassed more than 20,000 encroachers who were evicted from the land claimed by Hoima Sugar Limited.
The land was offered by Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom in 2016 for 99 years at sh3.9b to cultivate sugar.
The allocation which was first contested by the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and ecologists claiming it is part of Bugoma central forest reserve, was given to Hoima Sugar in the 2019 Masindi High court ruling.
Subsequently, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) cleared Hoima sugar to use 11.4 square miles from the initial 22 square miles.
A group of people who claimed ownership later established gardens and charcoal burning on the land.
The recent eviction followed protests from the sugar firm that their efforts to use the aforesaid land for sugarcane growing had become difficult.
Mayanja who earlier in the day held a closed door meeting with Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom officials at their offices in Hoima City, later proceeded to the locus.
Nyendwoha Mutiti, the first deputy prime minister chaired the meeting to discuss the matter.
Other attendees included Kikuube district Council Speaker Christopher Nkalu, Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Amlan Tumusiime and Bunyoro kingdom minister for external relations, Phillip Katahoire, among others.
“The minister wanted to know from us (kingdom) who the rightful owners were and we told him clearly that we know Hoima Sugar limited,” Mutiti told The Albertine Journal.
Meanwhile, members of Tulipona Veterans Association were recently arrested by the police following allegations that they forged a signature of Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru giving them 2,000 hectares from the contested land.
Forgery was unearthed in a 2021 letter to the state house legal department bearing signatures of Omukama and Norman Lukumu, yet he (Lukumu) had ceased being the Kingdom Premier in 2018.
Tulipona authored another letter dated January 05, 2015 which bore Lukumu’s signature yet he had not been appointed Prime Minister by then, prompting the kingdom to send the matter to police for investigations.
“The minister has come on a fact finding mission after he had been misled to clear the eviction. We cannot evict people who don’t own land there. But on humanitarian grounds some had been allowed to cut trees and go but were adamant,” the first deputy premier added.
The Albertine Journal could not talk to Mayanja to establish his next course of action.