Residents of Rupa Sub County in Moroto District in Karamoja sub region have said that President Museveni is backing prominent Karimojong business man Mr Cornelius Kodet and some ministers to grab their land.
The protesting residents on Thursday rejected a plan by Mr Kodet to build a cement factory called Ateker cement covering a total of 442 actress of the mineral rich land in Rupa saying they were not consulted about the land.
Attempts by state minister for Trade Mr Michael Weirike and State Minister for Ethics Fr. Simon Peter Lokodo to address residents failed as residents turned ruddy and instead accused President Museveni for using Mr Kodet to grab their land.
According to the residents, in 2010 Mr Kodet approached a group of elders and opinion leaders in the area requesting 100 actress of land on grounds that president Museveni wanted to build 100 modern houses for people but instead surveyed 442 actress without consulting the locals.
Mr Mark Lorika, one of the elders said they gave Mr Kodet 100 actress following his statement that president Museveni wanted to build modern houses for the people but instead he went silently to survey more land without consulting the local people.
“To our surprise this son of the Karimojong (Kodet) went and surveyed more land beyond what we gave him and he even acquired land titles without our knowledge,” he said.
Mr Joseph Otita, the District LCV councilor for Rupa Sub County accused Mr Kodet of lying to the local people.
“Mr Kodet came, by then I was the sub county Chairperson of Rupa, so he asked for 100 actress of land. We gave him the land since his plans was to build modern villages for the community. But to my surprise, the businessman went and surveyed more land and now he is changing that he wants to build a cement factory which is wrong,” he said.
Mr Otita said Mr Kodet should have come back and met the local people who are the owners of the land and told them the new plans since his earlier plans of building modern villages failed but he choose to do things at the back doors from the people.
According to Mr Otita the businessman’s land title covers 442 acres of land including inside the police station in Rupa yet he was only given 100 acres.
Mr Simon Longoli, another elder, said that although the factory idea was welcome, the land title should be changed in the names of the local community and also the acres of land taken by businessman be reduced.
Mr Andrew Keem Napaja, the district LCV chairperson Moroto, described the protest by the local people against establishment of the cement factory as unfortunate saying Karamoja can only be developed through industrialization.
Mr Cornelius Kodet refused to comment on the matter saying he would get appropriate time to comment.
The state Minister for trade Mr Michael Weirike also declined to comment on the matter.
Mr Don Wanyama, the presidential spokesperson when contacted, described the community allegations involving president Museveni in land grabbing in Karamoja as unfortunate.
During the 2016 Presidential campaigns President Museveni called for a press conference at Morulinga state lodge where he warned individuals grabbing people’s land using his names.
“I don’t have powers on the land. The land belongs to the people so if there is any person coming to Karamoja to grab land using Museveni’s name should be arrested,” he warned.