By Najib Mulema
Grace Nantubiro, a citizen journalist working with witnessradio.org has been remanded to Kaweeri prison in Mubende after being charged with murder and aggravated robbery.
Before being charged at Mubende Magistrate court, Nantubiro has been in and out of police for interrogations and writing statements over radio programmes and her capacity building work with a community of over 3500 people being evicted on Block 168, Plot 19, 22 and 23.
The land has 322.5 hectares covering five villages namely, Kambuye, Kikono, Kyabaana, Kanseera and Lwensanga in East Division, Mubende Municipality, Mubende district.
It is being claimed by a local businessman Kaweesi George.
Without an eviction court order, Mubende police on September 30 ,2018 provided protection to businessman’s hundreds of workers to demolish people’s houses and cutting down people’s crops among others without compensation.
The same workers on October 9 kidnapped Nantubiro alongside other three human rights defenders on their research mission after getting information about an eviction exercise on the same land.
“We were waylaid, roughly searched and our tools were confiscated, our arms got tied on our backs and legs were tied using ropes before being rescued by police’ said Nantubiro when she was visited in prison.
According to sources, on October 11, the businessman’s workers were withdrawn from the contested land and kept at police after a directive from district leadership. However, in the wee hours of a following day, workers escaped from police and returned to the land where a businessman’s manager a one Yunusu Kasajja was found dead, killed in cold blood by unknown assailants.
Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala, Executive Director at Witnessradio.org has condemned Nantubiro’s persecution and demanded for her immediate release from prison.
“We condemn the persecution of our staff because of her work. We stand in solidarity with her and disassociate ourselves (witnessradio.org) from any wrong doing which has led to the arrest and persecution of our colleague. We demand for her immediate release from prison unconditionally” he lamented.
Adding “Nantubiro was in-charge of civic engagement and research in Greater Mubende region and she has been building capacities of different native communities facing land evictions about existing legal frameworks and how to use lawful means to defend their land rights,”
Majority of families that are being evicted by police and Kaweesi’s workers were relocated to the area after their land was taken away by Kaweeri Coffee Plantation limited in early 2000s.
Documents seen by Watchdog Uganda indicate that late Kayiwa Emmanuel Bukko who relocated some of Kaweeri Coffee Plantation limited victims is still the rightful owner of the claimed land as its titles remained unchanged.
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