Bunyoro Kitara Reparation Agency (BUKITAREPA) has sued the attorney general of Uganda together with three oil companies for carrying out outrageous activities in the process of oil exploration, exploitation, production and other related activities in the Albertine Graben.
The oil companies that have been sued jointly with the attorney general are Tullow Oil Uganda Operations Pty Ltd, Total Exploration & Production Uganda and China National Offshore Oil Corporation, all referred to as defendants.
The case has been filed in the high court of Uganda Holden at Masindi civil suit No.C5-023 of 2016 and view of the above, the deputy court registrar at Masindi has already issued summons to file defense dated 21st June 2016 to be served on the attorney general and the three oil companies.
In her summons, the deputy registrar gave defendants only ten days to have filed defense in the manner prescribed under order 9 Rule 1 of civil procedure rules and failure to do so, the plaintiffs may proceed with the suit and judgment may be given in their absence.
Meanwhile, in her plaint, through her lawyer Ms. Ayena Adongo & Company Advocates, BUKITAREPA states that, the indigenous people of Bunyoro Kitara kingdom hailing from Albertine Graben are marginalized and gravely affected by the ongoing oil exploration, exploitation and production in the suit land.
BUKITAREPA also believes that, government gave out part of the land to oil companies and other people for purposes of exploration, exploitation and royalty interest hence gravely aggrieving the plaintiffs. “In utter disregard for both national laws and international conventions, treaties, declarations, etc. in the process of giving exploration rights to oil companies government failed, ignored or omitted to provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for actions in the suit land which has effects of disposing the indigenous people from their land and resources”, the plaint further states.
The plaintiffs also aver that, after carrying out survey and realizing that the prospects of oil exploration had become real in the Albertine Graben, government tactfully encouraged many private individuals to fraudulently acquire interest in the suit land without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous people; and without entering into any agreement with them on just and fair compensation.
BUKITAREPA is therefore seeking for permanent injunction restraining the government and oil companies until all issues, procedures and measures are put in place, declaration that all land titles granted to speculators ten years before and after declaration that oil deposits in Albertine Graben are economically viable and ready for exploration were fraudulently obtained and therefore null and void.
The organization also wants cancellation of land titles fraudulently issues to individuals in the suit land for purposes of getting pole position and alternatively or without prejudice to immediately forgo a declaration that indigenous people are entitled to a share of the oil royalties in the suit land on a percent to be determined by court.
BUKITAREPA also wants general damages for enduring effects on the plaintiffs’ land, aggravated damages in compensation arising from fraudulent grant of titles to the plaintiffs’ land and costs of the suit.