Amuru district chairman Michael Lakony has turned to using the Word of God to teach his people about the value of land and who it belongs to.
Speaking during a meeting attended by Community Development Officers as well as local and cultural leaders from Amuru district, Lakony said there was no better way of understanding the issue of land that using the Bible.
The meeting organized by Action Aid, a non-governmental organization, at Amuru sub-county hall yesterday (Monday) aimed at resolving land conflicts in the area.
After keenly listening to the leaders discuss land issues in their areas, Lakony asked for an Acholi Bible and read a scripture from the book of Leviticus.
‘In Leviticus; 24:23, God says land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are sojourners with me. And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land,” he read.
He repeated the verse in the English version and asked the leaders to turn to the Word of God if they have failed to understand the importance of keeping land without unnecessary sales.
“One third of land owners in Amuru are now aliens because our people are selling land to pay dowry, buy motorcycles and pay school fees, among others. The land no longer belongs to Amuru,” Lakony said.
He advised the Acholi to learn to lease or rent land to potential investors and others who want to use the land instead of selling it.
“Even God is against selling land. Don’t sell land. If you have problems, rent or lease it out to get money to help the family. Don’t sell,” he emphasized.
According to Moses Ocan, Amuru Police OC, 75 per cent of cases they get are land related. He adds that violence has flared on especially during sale of land where family members do not agree.
“You find one family fighting over a piece of land and the peace of the whole area is disturbed.”
He noted that families are breaking up because of land matters. He blames parents for involving their children in land conflicts for their selfies gains.
“A one Severino in Acwera sub-county put all his five boys to fight in a land matter. I arrested the whole family. I only felt pity for him because when you come to police, you will not come with the land you are fighting for. People should get it that land is fixed,” Ocan noted.
David Komakech, the project officer, Action Aid Gulu Cluster, advised the local leaders and the local government structures to device new mechanisms of handling land conflicts in the community so that land can be put to productive use when the planting season begins.
“Solved land cases keep resurfacing even after court settlements, breeding more conflicts. Leaders need to come out with what new things can be done now to end land conflict in Amuru and Northern Uganda as a whole,” Komakech advised.
He suggested that leaders involve the community in the process of getting a solution to the rampant land conflicts that arise out of land transactions or ownership.
“The solution is with the community, coming out truthfully to pin point at wrong elements that fuel conflict where dialogue could easily sort out things.”
Stella Aciro, Amuru Senior Development Officer, argued that Amuru is not developing despite government efforts to bring programmes for livelihood restoration due to land conflicts.
“The Acholi have cultural ways of handling land conflicts and children. Amuru is not developing because we have vested a lot of energy in land conflicts. We cannot develop at the same rate with other districts if we have such a high rate of land conflicts,” Aciro said.
Land in Amuru is held under customary ownership and usage is decided by the clan or family. Government has of recent advocated for families to acquire certificate of customary land ownership to have documents in their names showing ownership.