Enanga, dad drop plans to evict villagers

Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga and his father George Econga Okabo, a retired Superintendent of Police have abandoned their plan to evict occupants of disputed customary land in Oreta Village, Akokoro sub county in Apac district.

They abandoned the plan a day after Econga appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into land matters chaired by Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire. The Commission is investigating the dispute involving members of eight clans living on the land, occupying four square miles of land.

Appearing before the Commission to defend acquisition of the disputed land on Wednesday, Enanga asked the Commission to facilitate mediation with the group saying they never had opportunity to negotiate over the dispute.

On Tuesday, Econga accused the residents of encroaching on land that belonged to his late father  Enoci Okabo. He told the Commission that the occupants have no rights over the land and must vacate for his family to set up a privately owned Mixed Farm and mechanized agriculture project.

Enanga said their family has been a victim of unclear intrigues, propaganda and fabrications.

Enanga and the father face accusations of illegally registering the customary land as freehold in the names of Awilodyang Mixed Farm, a company they jointly own in total disregard of the interests of the occupants. Two of their relatives pinned them for using police to threaten them over the land.

The witnesses included Naphtali Enanga and Lilly Alwedo, Econga’s brother and sister respectively. They accused Enanga of perpetrating the dispute from the background using Police he occasionally draws from Apac Central Police Station.

Enanga has denied the accusations saying his parents only reported criminal activities targeted at their family and property to local leaders which culminated into some occasional arrests and detention of those behind those criminal activities. He also refuted allegations that they are claiming the entire 10 square miles of the land, a complete departure from his father’s position that he owns the entire land.

The duo claims they inherited the land from Enoci Okabo, Econga’s dad after he migrated and settled in the area in 1949 after suffering the misfortune of losing three children from Okabo clan land located in Alia village in Akokoro Sub-county, some eight miles from the disputed piece of land.

The two said Okabo pacified the area from a complete jungle inhabited by wildlife using hunting skills they practised. He later distributed the land among his Children with George Econga Okabo taking 3 Square Miles, his brothers Johnson Angala and Naphtali Enanga getting 149 acres and 2.5 square miles respectively. The others Simon Okwir got 100 acres while Benjamin Enanga received 3 square miles.

Enanga explained that his grandfather migrated to the area from Alia village citing witchcraft for the death of his three children.

Commissioner Robert Ssebunya implored Enanga and father to negotiate with the clan members claiming the land to protect their legacy.

The lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire led Commission told Enanga and father that the land was illegally registered in the names of Awilodyang Mixed Farm because the Company is separate from George Econga  Okabo who had asked for it in 1978.

Herbert Byenkya, the Commission Lead Counsel said the Company does not qualify to secure the customary land as freehold because it was registered as a non-citizen Company. In response, Enanga said their lawyer Oper and Company Advocates could have made mistakes in registering the Company.

Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire indicated that the title will be cancelled because it is shrouded in illegalities.

Enanga’s testimony was interrupted by a repeated power outage which forced the Commission to prematurely adjourn the matter.

Econga’s paternal uncle led a group of clan members to petition the Commission of Inquiry into Land to investigate rEconga Okabo and Enanga. They accused them of using Police to forcefully evict them or block them from accessing water from a community borehole sunk by the government in the area.

The Commission later established that the land measuring 824.28 Hectares located in Oreta village in Akokoro Sub County in Apac district, has been registered as freehold in the names of Awilodyang Mixed Farm, owned by Econga and his son Enanga. They registered the Company in 2018.

Alfred Owiny, a resident of the disputed customary land pinned retired Police Officer George Econga Okabo and his son Fred Enanga, the spokesperson of Uganda Police Force for the land grab.