By DailyNewsUG Correspondent,
“Those who have got cows in non-fenced areas must go immediately because this is recklessness. Why should you bring cows into an area where you have no control?” said the President on Friday.
“Therefore, I direct the Division Commander and the regional police Commander and then the Minister of Northern Uganda to issue orders for these people to move their cows. Anybody who has got cows in a non-fenced area, must go. All of them.”
His visit is aimed at addressing the growing crisis of the settlement of Balaalo in the region.
The President also ordered that the Balaalo who are occupying government land like in Lakang and Aswa ranch to vacate it.
“They must leave. I give them three weeks to hire trucks and take their cows to wherever they take them. I would have confiscated the cows themselves but let them take their cows, sell them and do whatever they want to do,” he said.
He disclosed that when he passed an Executive Order banning the Balaalo from Acholi, he started to hear different voices from people and as NRM, they always try to hear everybody to know their side and solve the issue harmoniously.
“I therefore started with a group led by the Chief Justice, Owiny-Dollo and we had a long meeting in Entebbe, and I was taking notes. Then some of those they call Balaalo came. They came with landowners who either sold to them or rented land to them; they gave their version. I said no problem, I will come to one of the areas myself and hear directly from the people.”
The President also revealed that the disagreement between the Balaalo and the people of Greater North mainly stems from the issue of destruction of crops and ownership of land in the area.
“To have people destroying people’s crops is totally not acceptable and therefore, I just want to crosscheck briefly but it’s clear that if you have got cattle in an area which is not fenced, then obviously, they are liable to cause damage to people’s crops,” President Museveni explained.
“Now that does not deal with the issue of ownership. Whether you bought or rented, we shall handle that later because here, we are not handling the issue of ownership or renting contracts because whether you bought or rented, you have no right to destroy my crops and that is why I have already asked the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General to draft a law criminalising this type of nomadism. They must all go and I give them three weeks to leave and they should not go to invade other areas of Uganda, they should sell the cows, get money and do other things.”
The President also promised that he is going to have a final meeting with the two opinions; the one who are for the immediate eviction of the Balaalo and the ones who are saying that go slowly.
“I will have another meeting in Entebbe, and we will conclude,” he assured.
“Now if there are people who have fenced their land, where they are renting and fenced properly, those ones can wait until we discuss in more detail. We shall discuss how to handle the issue of ownership and renting. That’s the second issue because you hear these people saying this land is ours. The cultural leader is saying that it is for the Clan.”
The President further requested the people of Acholi to be careful while dealing with the Balaalo issue because it is sensitive and can cause problems.
“You should be careful, don’t just talk about them anyhow, like Gilbert Olanya has been saying that “Balaalo cannot come to here because Acholi is Acholi land, Balaalo cannot come here” These people who are playing around, should talk about the matter seriously and we shall solve it.”