MARACHA. There is uncertainty in Olivu Anglican Parish in Maracha district as Church leaders battle encroachers, who are claiming a significant chunk of Church land.
But the Bishop has called for calm and peaceful negotiated settlements to the wrangles that have engulfed church institutions throughout the region.
Part of the contested land belongs to the Church founded Olivu primary school in Yivu Sub-County.
Mr Richard Buni, the Church teacher for Olivu Parish narrated that the local community started protesting last year, when the Church organized to survey the ten acres of land that it has been occupying since 1935.
The survey process was meant to clear the way for leasing and titling of the land for the two institutions, but the people want half of that land returned to them.
One of the claimants, Nason Ecega has even proceeded to dig a foundation for building a house on the point where they want the new boarder line to be set inside the contested land.
Benson Aviku, 68, one of the area elders, acknowledged that their grandfathers gave land for developing Olivu Church but as their population has increased; there is need for the Church and the School to give back part of the land to the community.
He was speaking during a recent security meeting brokered by Mr James Matua, the Local Council 1 Chairperson of Worogbo West village, to address the wrangle.
The claimants were provoked when Aseri Eraa, one of the three team members representing the Church called them to respect the decision of their grand fathers including one only identified as Anderia, who generously offered the land for establishing the Church.
Subsequent speakers like Mr Stanley Yiacia and Mr Alex Gule, a retired Parish Chief were also booed by the people when they enumerated the legal implications of the demands laid by the claimants.
The Parish Priest of Olivu Anglican Parish, Rev. Gift Elema appealed for quick resolution of the standoff, saying unknown people had started to invade the church premises at night chanting insults and making families of the religious leaders to live in fear.
He said the increasing population of the neighbouring community of the church was a blessing from God and urged the people to negotiate amicably with the church officials over the land.
Silvio Amandi, the PTA Chairperson of Olivu Primary School said the problem has affected the morale of the teachers and paralyzed outdoor activities since part of play ground is also been claimed by the residents.
These revelations prompted the Aroi parish councilor, Yovan Ruku to ask the residents to stop targeting teachers and the clergy over the matter, saying they are simply servants sent to help the people.
In his one year in office report, the Madi and West Nile diocese bishop Charles Collins Andaku acknowledges that the Church Land parcels have been encroached resulting into conflicts with neighboring communities and individuals.
“We have done appointment of new land and Estates officer Rev Can Benjamin Drapari, we have Promoted land registration thus close to 20 of Churches have got land titles, others are in process of acquiring”
He said the Church was teaching Christians to use peaceful resolutions such as open dialogue through local leaders, government and in consultation with Board of Trustees of Church of Uganda.