National, News

Land grabbing, a national security threat, officials say

By Kidega Livingstone/ Rehan Ajuet Moun


Rampant cases of land grabbing from landlords by mighty individuals in Juba County is a threat to national security, Central Equatoria State officials said.

Central Equatoria State Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Taban Emmanuel Baya said that it has become difficult to deal with land issues in Juba.

The minister proposes conducting dialogue among the stakeholders so as to come up with a solution to what he described as “great challenges” to the government and the community.

“This is something that affects our community, especially in Juba suburbs where land issues are rampant and as a result it’s a security threat to our local population in Juba County,” Taban said.

The state minister was speaking during the opening of a two days dialogue on land issues organized by Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, on Thursday.

On his part, Central Equatoria State minister for Peacebuilding, Gerald Francis attributes the rampant cases of land grabbing in Juba County to high influx of rural-urban population.

“Many people are forced to look for the land for settlement in the city,” he added.

The minister stressed that instead of taking legal means of acquiring land most of the grabbers opt for unlawful ways.

“They instead take law into their hand by starting demarcating the land, which results into clashes between them and the local population (landlords),” he elaborated.

Taban calls for a collective responsibility, to resolve land conflicts in amicable ways.

“It’s not only the government and the Chiefs alone all us. As the Ministry of Peacebuilding, we are looking at the problem critically and find the way on how to resolve it, in a peaceful way,” Taban expressed.

Juba County and Juba City have witnessed a lot of issues pertaining land grabbing and this is causing insecurity and disharmony among the communities. “We have witnessed many people losing their lives because of issues of land grabbing,” he added.

Program Coordinator for Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative in Central Equatoria State, Bush Abuse also acknowledged threat to national security as a result of Land conflicts.

He said Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative has joint the State government to organize the dialogue to analyse the causes of land related conflict, so that they come up with a solution.

“The resolutions that will comes from the dialogue will be presented to the state government and the stakeholders. This also will allow the State Assembly to enact laws that will address issue of land grabbing and reduce the insecurity and conflict on land related matter,” he said

In a related development, Integrity South Sudan, a civil society organization has condemned the spate of attacks related to land disputes, so far been felt in various states in the country.

Mr. Lodiong David Lubang, the communication & media officer said land disputes have intensified, putting lives of citizens at risk of insecurity.

“Integrity South Sudan expresses its concerns with the recent escalation of violence over the issues of land ownership marked by the recent residents of Juba County and Abyei,” said Lubang in a press statement.

“The land disputes have intensified, exacerbating existing grievances and endangering individual lives and security of South Sudan,” he added.

He emphasized that South Sudan’s path to peace and prosperity hinges on addressing land-related violence.

To him, chapter XIV, Art (2) states that “any person who settles or occupies a land without a customary or legal title or without the express concern of the owner or person legally in charge of the said land before the commencement of this act, shall be considered an unlawful occupant.”

Lubang appealed to the government, organization and community to change tact in its approach to dealing with conflict by adopting four critical steps in handling land disputes.

“a thorough investigation into these killings is essential for the perpetrator to be held accountable through a transparent civilian process,” he noted.

He suggested implementation of measures to prevent illegal settlement and provide legal avenues for resolving disputes.

“Facilitate dialogue between affected communities, herders and authorities to prevent and find equitable solution,” he continued.

“Address underlying issues such as poverty, displacement and historical land injustice” Lubang suggested.

Days ago, the First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Nathaniel Oyet, raised concerns over the growing cases of insecurity in some parts of the country which he said require immediate intervention.

Oyet cited the tragic events in Kworjik Luri, where clashes between land grabbers and the community resulted in the deaths of two women and multiple injuries.

He called for immediate parliamentary action, pointing to a series of violent incidents in northern Juba County and neighbouring areas.

In response, Speaker, Jemma Nunu, called on the security committee to launch a thorough investigation into the recent incidents.

She assured the public that law enforcement agencies were actively pursuing criminal cases linked to the violence.

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