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Locals protest Lango Cooperative Union land lease to German investor

Residents of Angayiki Village in Chawente Sub County in Kwania district, numbering 130 are protesting the lease of 1,165 hectares of land by Lango Cooperative Union to Smaz Group, a German investor.

theCooperator recently reported about the lease agreement between LCU and the German investor.

In a letter dated 8th of January, 2021, and addressed to LCU Chairman, Maxwell Akora, Okwir, and Company Advocates, acting on behalf of Among Agnes and 130 others, protested the proposed giveaway, saying the land in question does not belong to the Union.

Contested ownership

Ownership of the land in question has been in contention for more than a decade now.

In 2011, Lango Cooperative Union took the 131 residents of Angayiki to court, accusing them of encroaching its land at Angayiki which measures 1, 165 hectares, a matter still pending before Lira High Court Magistrate, Jeneva Natukunda.

Daniel Odongo of Okwir and Company Advocates says the resolution made by Lango Cooperative Union on the 26th of June, 2020, to lease the land to the investor was in disregard of the ongoing court process. The case is next due for hearing on the 2nd of March, 2021.

“The leadership of the Union should first remain patient. Why are they leasing out the land, yet the matter is still pending in court? Let court handle the matter,” Odongo said.

Moris Obua, one of the defendants and a resident of Angayiki, claims that the land in question is customary land. 

“That land does not belong to the Lango Cooperative Union; that land belongs to us. It is customary land that we inherited from our forefathers; that is why we are still pursuing the case up to now, waiting for the court pronouncement,” he said.

In the protest letter seen by our reporter, Odongo accuses Akora and others of committing illegality and causing the suffering of over 300 people of Angayiki. He gave Lango Cooperative Union 14 days to revert to them in case it is no longer interested in the matter that it took to court.

However, Maxwell Akora, the Chairman Board of Directors of Lango Cooperative Union and also the Maruzi County Member of Parliament, told theCooperator that the land in question is already vacant because the said locals had already been evicted from it.

As a result, he said, said the Union may consider withdrawing the court case and proceed with the leasing process.

“Yes, we earlier ran to court but the Microfinance Support Center evicted the locals, so we are now thinking of removing the case from court and going on with leasing out the land to an investor,” he said in an interview.

Members of the community say they suffered a loss in 2016 when the Microfinance Support Center destroyed their houses and properties to attach the land over a Shs 2bn debt owed to it by Lango Cooperative Union. However, an injunction was later ordered against the eviction exercise.

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