There is fresh tension in Terego and Madi-Okollo districts following the return of the Balaalo herdsmen barely half a year after their eviction.
Currently, the herdsmen are grazing in Ocea and Amuru villages in Maraju parish, Cina in Akinio parish all in Uriama sub-county Terego district.
In Madi Okollo district, the herdsmen are in Ogoko sub county and Rigbo sub-county.
In March this year, joint security forces of the Uganda Police and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) carried out the eviction exercise of Balaalo herdsmen from the West Nile sub-region following the directive of President Yoweri Museveni in November 2021.
The president’s directive was in reaction to claims from the local leaders across the sub-region that the presence of the pastoralists is hampering farming as their animals strayed into farmlands and destroyed crops.
According to the local leaders, the number of herdsmen returning to districts has been increasing from June this year, amid growing concerns of conflict with the locals.
Peter Arubaku Bosses, the councilor representing Uriama sub county to Terego district council explains that, most of the herdsmen just went in to hiding in Madi Okollo during the eviction exercise.
According to Arubaku, an estimated 70 acres of cassava, rice and passion fruit gardens have so far been destroyed by purported animals of the herdsmen in the sub-county.
Meanwhile, the Terego district chairperson Winfred Saka notes that only a small fraction of the herdsmen was evicted from the district while the majority stayed put.
Ismail Drabe, the LC 5 chairperson of Madi Okollo district says his office has received many complaints from the locals about the presence of the Balaalo herdsmen. He however blamed the security forces for not doing a thorough evection exercise.
But Colonel Jackson Kayanja, the 409 Brigade Commander in West Nile region has denied reports that they connived with the ‘Balaalo’ during the eviction exercise. He says his office is yet to find out why the eviction exercise stopped.
“I don’t know why the eviction eventually stopped but I am yet to consult my seniors,” he said.
Prior to the eviction exercise, there are more than 25,000 heads of cattle belonging to the Balaalo in West Nile.
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