Tension builds up in Lakang, Kololo in Amuru district as minister for lands, Betty Amongi insists on opening boundaries for Amuru sugar works amidst protest by LC5 chairman, the two MPs and the locals. Photos by Eddie Ssejjoba
The minister for lands, Betty Amongi Thursday survived an attack by residents of Amuru led by local leaders and Members of Parliament who blocked her and ministry surveyors from accessing a venue where she was scheduled to launch survey of land for Amuru Sugar Works.
The MPs led by Gilbert Olanya and Odonga Otto mobilized residents who blocked the minister’s convoy. When the police used tear gas to disperse them, some charged at them and wanted to attack the minister who never moved out of her vehicle.
Two people who tried to throw back gas canister were injured.
The police also arrested Odonga Otto and disarmed him of his pistol. Otto who on several occasions charged towards the minister called women to remove their blouses and led them where the minister had parked but they were blocked by the police. The women rolled in dust and cried accusing government of trying to take away their land. The dispersed crowd regrouped and blocked the road again.
The RPC, Bosco Otim however, had rough time as some of the police personnel became reluctant to engage the charged crowd. Soldiers stood from a distance, watching the drama that lasted for almost an hour.
Otim also spent time ordering the MPs to clear the way and talk to their people to move away from the road and on several occasions threatened to arrest them. Olanya however became furious after learning that Otto had been arrested and almost went wild calling for his immediate release.
The RPC threatened to arrest him as he tried to charge towards the minister, threatening to harm her if she did not release the colleague.
The minister later bowed out and returned to Gulu saying that although the crowd had been dispersed, she got information that the residents had cut down trees that blocked the road.
The RPC later said that the MPs had called more villagers to join the demonstration, saying he did not have enough personnel to handle the situation.
Amongi vowed that the exercise would g and accused two MPs of demanding for a bribe of sh1.5bn to let the project to go ahead. “We shall not bow to the MPs intimidation,” she vowed.
The minister and the MPs first had a head on confrontation at two different check points where the MPs had been blocked from accessing the venue.
She accused Otto of buying alcohol for residents to block the function. She said majority of people were ferried from different areas although a good number of land owners were willing to let their land surveyed.
MP Otto slept at the venue with residents.
The MPs on the other hand accused the minister of sidelining them and trying to hurry with the program with hidden motives.