The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon. Betty Aol Ocan, wants the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to investigate the actions of Hon. Hillary Onek for stopping their visit to Apaa and Aswa ranch in northern Uganda.
Hon. Onek is the Minister in charge of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister, and is also the Member of Parliament for Lamwo County in Lamwo district.
While presenting a statement to the House sitting on Wednesday, 20 February 2019, the LoP said that the Minister had written a letter to the Clerk to Parliament advising the delegation against visiting Lamwo.
“It is disheartening for a government minister to allege that the Leader of the Opposition is incompetent to undertake oversight into allegations raised in a petition from residents of Paracele village,” said Aol Ocan.
The LoP told Parliament that on her visit with opposition MPs to the disputed area of Apaa on the border of Amuria and Adjumani, as well the Ranch at Aswa, the team found that the land hosting the ranch had been taken away from its original owners.
“When we visited Aswa Ranch, we found that it was not being managed professionally, and that is why there should be a memorandum of understanding to revert the land back to Pader District Council,” added the LoP.
Nakaseke South County MP, Hon. Paulson Luttamaguzi, told the House that they discovered that Aswa Ranch was being illegally distributed without the involvement of local communities.
“We also noted that the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank which runs the ranch, does not own the land. Parliament has been appropriating money to NAGRC and Data Bank who don’t have the land title to Aswa Ranch,” said Luttamaguzi.
The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Betty Amongi, however, told the House that the title to the land hosting the Aswa Ranch was in the custody of the Ministry of Agriculture, given that the land belonged to Government of Uganda.
“I want to assure colleagues that the land title of Aswa Ranch exists as a freehold title. The matter is before the Committee of Agriculture before which I and the Agriculture Minister have appeared,” Amongi said.
She explained that the roadblock the Opposition MPs met had been set up to stem the conflict between residents of Adjumani and Amuria, adding it was an intervention by the Office of the Prime Minister towards finding a lasting solution to the impasse.
On Wednesday, 13 February 2019, the Leader of the Opposition and a delegation of MPs touring northern Uganda were blocked from visiting the disputed Apaa sub-parish on the border of Amuru and Adjumani districts, where Amuru RDC Linda Auma said their request had been processed through the wrong district.