President Museveni has finally intervened in the long-standing conflict surrounding the Balaalo herdsmen’s operations in the Acholi Sub-region.
After twice postponing a decision, the President met with a high-level delegation from the Sub-region to facilitate a resolution.
He expressed his willingness to take action if provided with “factual examples of the crimes being committed.”
This development follows six months after he issued an executive order effectively banning the Balaalo herdsmen from northern Uganda.
Earlier this month, a verification committee, led by Prof Jack Nyeko Pen-Mogi, the acting chairman of the Uganda Land Commission, released a comprehensive report on the matter.
One of the report’s significant recommendations was the eviction of illegal herdsmen in northern and north-eastern Uganda.
Additionally, the government was urged to reevaluate all land lease agreements for land acquisition to ensure fair compensation for locals who had leased or sold their land at lower prices.
The terms and prices of these agreements were recommended for renegotiation, where found to be unfair to landowners.
The report shed light on alleged deceptive practices employed by the Balaalo herdsmen to acquire land in the sub-region.
It revealed that “some Balaalo acquired land through intimidation, manipulation, and destruction of gardens, leading to poverty and eventually forcing the locals to sell their land at reduced prices.”
The Balaalo were also accused of “proxy buying” land, posing a threat to the land ownership rights of the local population.
The findings were the outcome of a study conducted between June and August 2023. It emphasized that “some community leaders, including LCs, colluded with CID police to suppress cases against the Balaalo.”
The report also mentioned that “some Balaalo were reported to possess guns and military uniforms.”
The report’s recommendations potentially put at least 217 Balaalo herdsmen, who settled in the Acholi Sub-region, at risk of eviction.
A significant number of these individuals reside in Amuru (86), Pader (45), Gulu (44), and Nwoya (37) districts, according to the UPDF 4th Division army command.
It was estimated that the herdsmen collectively owned 2,700 heads of cattle.
A high-profile delegation, including Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Relief and Disaster Preparedness Minister Hilary Onek, Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Henry Okello Oryem, Junior Economic Monitoring Minister Beatrice Akello Akori, and Mr. Anthony Akol, the head of the Acholi Parliamentary Group, along with cultural leaders, met with President Museveni to discuss the issue.