Bunyoro Kitara Reparations Agency (BUKITAREPA) has dragged National
Forestry Authority and the Attorney General to Masindi high court accusing them of grabbing Bunyoro kingdom forests when it has never evoked Article 26 of the constitution which says that government has to pay before the acquisition of land.
Last year, the National Forestry Authority (NFA) sued the kingdom over encroaching and degrading of land on Plot 216, Buhanguzi Block 2, which it claims is in a forest reserve. The Kingdom denied encroaching on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima District.
In a defence filed before the High Court in Masindi, the kingdom alleged that the disputed land is an ancestral place of Kyangwali, the original seat of kingdom headquarters, and not part of Bugoma Forest Reserve.
“For more than 4,000 years, this land has held a cultural site used by all kings during this period for annual cultural rituals,” said Mr John Musungu in an affidavit sworn before court.
Addressing journalists at court premises yesterday, Batwale Doviko the chief Coordinator BUKITAREPA said that as they have done thorough research and discovered that the power of compulsory acquisition of land was nullified by the constitutional court and the supreme court in the case against Irumba VS the Attorney General and Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA).
He added that following the nullification of the compulsory acquisition of land law, government and other organs have no mandate to acquire land from the indigenous people without compensation.
Batwale also said that the forest cover in Bunyoro covers 3,110,996 square miles which is equivalent to 54% noting if Banyoro allows NFA to grab their land without compensation the indigenous Banyoro will be losing a lot.
He added that central government has been stealing Bunyoro’s properties through its agencies noting that NFA was put in place in 2004 by an act of parliament explaining that NFA has issued licenses on trees which have stayed for more than 100 years wondering why NFA is issuing licenses on trees it never planted.
He also explained that they need court to cancel all the leases NFA has offered to the people, timber licenses be revoked and to produce evidence which indicates that they legally acquired the land where the forests sit.
Efforts to get a comment from NFA were futile since they didn’t respond to our phone calls.
Last year BUKITAREPA dragged all the seven district land boards in Bunyoro to court accusing them of issuing land titles on the land. they have never owned and in may this year the Masindi High court issued and interim order restraining them from issuing land titles until the main suit is disposed of.