The Rhino Fund Uganda has dismissed as untrue, recent media reports that indicated the organisation is involved in a wrangle with Capt. Joseph Charles Roy over the land housing the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district.
Roy had reached out to different individuals accusing Rhino Fund Uganda of denying him and close associates access his farm and hospitality facilities on it. Roy alleged also that Rhine Fund Uganda had plans to grab his land.
According to a statement released by the Rhino Fund Uganda, the reports by Roy are twisted and misinterpreted to create a non-existent land wrangle in which he is said to have sought court order to evict Rhino Fund Uganda, despite an existing running contract which has not been abused by the latter.
“What has been reported, quoted and published in various/diverse media and forums have been grossly misrepresented with ulterior motives best known to the authors. And the same should be disregarded, condemned and ignored with contempt,” says Rhino Fund Uganda in a statement.
It adds: “The land wrangle being referred to in the media is twisted and misinterpreted. Rhino Fund Uganda, its Executive Director and D & D International Ltd (Amuka Lodge) have no desire or have never attempted to “steal” any Leasehold or Mailo land from Joe Roy. What is referred to as a “Land Wrangle” is merely the above contesting the early termination notices and protecting their interests and investments on the said land.”
In May, Roy through his lawyers petitioned the European Union ambassador, the World Bank and UNDP asking them to stop funding the Rhino Fund Uganda over what he termed as illegal activities and conflict of interest.
This prompted the organisation to seek redress in courts of law and on November 21, the High Court registrar, Flavia Nabakooza issued an injunction stopping Capt.Roy from carrying out any further activities until the main case is disposed of.
“An order is issued for a temporary injunction against the respondent , his agents, workmen, servants or any other persons acting on his behalf restraining from alternating, evicting, intimidating, threatening in any way interrupting or doing any act adverse to the applicant’s operations on the land particularly the safety and sustainability of the rhinos including but not limited to constructing buildings, airfields or any other structures on Ziwa rhino sanctuary until hearing and final disposal of the main suit,” said the High Court Registrar.
The Rhino Fund management, however, says the temporary injunction did not stop Capt.Roy or his clients from accessing his land as was reported.
“Our lawyers secured a court injunction to foster the security and safety of the Rhinos, an extremely vulnerable and endangered species but the same did not by any glimpse of error or wildest interpretation bar Joe Roy from accessing his land, business or client guest house which he refers to as his home,” says Rhine Fund Uganda in the statement.
“Joe Roy, his colleagues and family have been and still have access to the sanctuary whenever and wherever he wishes. There are bundles and volumes of evidence both documentary and photographic showing Roy happily in the sanctuary.”
The organisation says that the element of war was played to the gallery to distort facts and clear sequence of events.
Management also refuted claims that the Rhino Fund Board was disbanded by President Museveni, saying their constitution was only adjusted to increase the board members to accommodate two or three members of Joe Roy on the board.
“The Rhino Fund Uganda will remain the organization responsible for the management of the rhino program on the sanctuary as per the cooperation agreement that Rhino Fund Uganda has with Uganda Wildlife Authority. Joe Roy will not be involved in the management of this project other than having seats on the Rhino Fund Uganda Board.”
“It needs to be reiterated that the Rhino Fund Uganda Board has not been disbanded by His Excellency the President. It was clearly stated by His Excellency the President that the Rhino Fund Uganda constitution will be adjusted to increase the Board Member numbers in order to accommodate 2 or 3 members of Joe Roy on the Board and that Rhino Fund Uganda will remain the organization responsible for the management of the rhino program on the sanctuary as per the cooperation agreement that Rhino Fund Uganda has with Uganda Wildlife Authority,” Rhino Fund Uganda Board,” it adds.
On or about the 16th October,2017 and with no basis at all, Rhino Fund Uganda was stunned to be served with what purported to be a termination notice from M/s Omongole & Co. Advocates ,Counsel for Joe Roy allegedly terminating the 30 years License agreement between Rhino Fund and M/s Ziwa Ranchers Ltd.