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80-year-old man accuses NRM’s Kigongo of land grabbing



Ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM) vice chairman, Al Hajji Moses Kigongo, and other two city businessmen have been dragged into a city land wrangle involving an 80-year-old man.

Wycliffe Kato, 80, a retired civil servant has run to police to report that three ‘tycoons’ including Kigongo are intentionally grabbing his land in Kabalagala.

Kato claims that Kigongo, through fronting associates; Abudu Kizito Abiola and Mansoor Matovu alias Yanga famous for ownership of Namaganda plaza and many other malls in Kampala city, have embarked on a scheme to grab his prime land located in Kabalagala, a city suburb on plots 309, 317, 335 & 368.

When contacted, Kabalagala police station officer in charge of land protection, Aggrey Muwanika, confirmed that indeed Kato filed a case CRB 143/2018, SD REF; 51/23/12/2017 against Kigongo, who, he accused of grabbing land grabbing.

“They purchased a very tiny plot 310 of block 245 (2 decimals) at Kabalagala junction and using this, he encroached on the road reserve of Muyenga – Kabalagala road, encroaching on plots 309, 317, 335 & 368 and have blocked my house by building on its entrance which they build forcefully at night and use guns to threaten anyone who gets involved,” Kato alleged.

In February, Kato wrote to the town clerk of Makindye Division citing an illegal construction on the said land. In the letter, Kato raised an alarm against the duo that he now claims were constructing a shop on the said land.

Accordingly, the owner of the shop insisted that the plot 335 belonged to him despite showing no evidence for it. Kato says that he had complained initially to the LC1 chairman of the area, the DPC Kabalagala police station on January 24, 2018 and KCCA on January 15 but all chickened out after receiving threats from Kigongo’s associates.

At a later stage, the DPC organized for an impartial surveyor to survey the disputed land, only to find out the said surveyor had been paid off to write a biased report in favour of the alleged encroachers, Yanga and Abiola.

The surveyors report indicates that the said land instead belongs to the late Ham Mukasa thus the title deeds obtained by Kato of the same land inconsequential.

“This is not true because, I bought plot 368 from the late Ham Mukasa’s son, the heir, in 1988, His father, who sold me plot 335 in 1986, had died. I had earlier bought plot 309 and 317 from the late Ssemwanga in 1985,” Kato said.

“All land titles of plots 309, 317, 335 and 368 are in my name and available,” Kato states.

To invalidate the report from surveyors, Kato sought help of ministry of Lands, which confirmed he was indeed owner of the said properties on February 12.

“Reference is made to your request for a search. This is to inform you that the following entries appear on the tittles registers as follows; Tittle: Land at Kiuliriza Makindye Division block 245 plot no 335. Reg proprietor: Kiggundu Wycliffe Kato registered on 08/07/1986 at 12:15pm,” a statement from Lands reads in part.

But Kato states that in spite of all this, the group continued constructing at night on his land without being stopped by authorities.

“The police made them so untouchable that Yanga started boasting how no one will be able to touch them as soon as they rent out the shop.”

“He kept flashing his gun and telling us no one can stop him, he threatened our lives,” Kato added.

In a letter to the KCCA director of physical planning dated January 15, Kato expressed concern that the encroachers were playing hide and seek with police and KCCA officials at the expense of him losing his land. Kato said that a police booth situated less than a meter from the construction site did nothing to solve the situation.

“The builders have been playing the police and KCCA, a game of hide and seek while building at night. This is still going on till today. The policemen at the police booth protect the illegal builders instead of protecting us who had even given them a copy of the land title,” the letter reads in part.

According to Kato, he thought the fight was all over until one evening, a car belonging to Kigongo drove into the site, and its occupant who later turned out to be Kigongo jumped out and made a few inspections before entering the car and droving away.

Many times, Yanga and his colleague Abiola had joked about the fact that he cannot fight someone big in government. Kato’s son, David Kato also insists the Kigongo has visited the premises a number of times to do inspections.

“I am so disappointed a full vice chairman can be involved with such characters like Yanga who are known thugs to grab our land with impunity,” David said.

The land under contention 

However, Kigongo when contacted disowned the land grabbing claims that he comes from Butambala and cannot involve himself in land matters in Kampala.

“Let me tell you, those people who claim that am involved in that land, should come and I give them land, I do not own that land I come from Butambala-Bulo and I do not have any interest in Kabalagala land. My land is in Bulo where I will be buried and they should stop bothering my secretary,” Kigongo said.

Abiola also said he does not know anything about the contested land in Kabalagala. Yanga on the other hand, said the land is his, and instead advised Mzee Kato to solve his issues with KCCA which, he said is after him for trying to construct in a road reserve.

“That man (Kato) is mad, he should go to court. I am a business man who cannot waste time in such small things; you think I have time to fight with that fellow over just 1 or 2 decimals? That man has a mental issue and you should ignore his claims,” Yanga said.

“Kato is trying to build in the road reserve, and when authorities try to stop him, he comes complaining that it is me. I sought permission from KCCA to put pavers (on plot 310), which I did. However, the pavers were put on plot 335, which belongs to Kato.

He also wants to put mobile money kiosks after his perimeter wall, where people pass and that is between him and KCCA, not me,” Yanga said.

Source: The Observer


Breaking: Witness Radio and Partners to Launch Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy Project Tomorrow.



By Witness Radio Team.

Witness Radio, in collaboration with Dan Church Aid (DCA) and the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD), is set to launch the Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Uganda (MDA-HRU) project tomorrow, 22nd February 2024, at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Hoima District.

The project, funded by the European Union, aims to promote the protection and respect for human rights, and enable access to remedy where violations occur especially in the Mid-Western and Karamoja sub-regions where private sector actors are increasingly involved in land-based investments (LBIs) through improved documentation, and evidence-based advocacy.

The three-year project, which commenced in October 2023, focuses its activities in the Mid-Western sub-region, covering Bulisa, Hoima, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kikuube, Kagadi, Kibale, and Mubende districts, and Karamoja sub-region, covering Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Abim, Kaabong, Kotido, and Karenga districts.

The project targets individuals and groups at high risk of human rights violations, including Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs). It also engages government duty bearers such as policymakers and implementers in relevant ministries and local governments, recognizing their crucial role in securing land and environmental rights. Additionally, the project involves officials from institutional duty bearers including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Equal Opportunities Commission, and courts, among others.

Representatives from the international community, faith leaders, and business actors are also included in the project’s scope, particularly those involved in land-based investments (LBIs) impacting the environment.

The project was initially launched in Moroto for the Karamoja region on the 19th of this month with the leadership of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD).

According to the project implementors,  the action is organized into four activity packages aimed at; enhancing the capacity and skills of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs) in monitoring, documentation, reporting (MDR), and protection, establishing and reinforcing reporting and documentation mechanisms for advocacy and demand for corporate and government accountability;  providing response and support to HRDs and marginalized communities; and lastly facilitating collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagements that link local and national issues to national and international frameworks and spaces.

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Kiryandongo leadership agree to partner with Witness Radio Uganda to end rampant forced land evictions in the district.



By Witness Radio team.

Kiryandongo district leaders have embraced Witness Radio’s collaboration with the Kiryandongo district aimed at ending the rampant violent and illegal land evictions that have significantly harmed the livelihoods of the local communities in the area.

The warm welcome was made at the dialogue organized by Witness Radio Uganda, Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog at the Kiryandongo district headquarters, intended to reflect on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

Speaking at the high-level dialogue, that was participated in by technical officers, policy implementers, religious leaders, leaders of project affected persons (PAPs), politicians, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and development partners that support land and environment rights as well as the Land Based Investments (LBIs) Companies in the Kiryandongo district, the leaders led by the District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Ms. Edith Aliguma Adyeri appreciated the efforts taken by Witness Radio organization to organize the dialogue meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders to safeguard community land and environmental rights in order address the escalating vice of land grabbing in the area.

During the dialogue, participants shared harrowing accounts of the impacts of land evictions and environmental degradation, including tragic deaths, families torn asunder, young girls forced into marriage, a surge in teenage pregnancies, limited access to education, and significant environmental damage which have profoundly affected the lives of the local population in Kiryandongo.

Participants attending the dialogue.

In recent years, Kiryandongo district has been embroiled in violent land evictions orchestrated to accommodate multinational large-scale agriculture plantations and wealthy individuals leaving the poor marginalized.

According to various reports, including findings from Witness Radio’s 2020 research Land Grabs at a Gun Point, the forceful land acquisitions in Kiryandongo have significantly impacted the livelihoods of local communities. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 individuals have been displaced from their land to make room for land-based investments in the Kiryandongo district. However, leaders in the district also revealed in the dialogue that women and children are affected most.

The Kiryandongo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Akweteireho, emphasized that all offices within the Kiryandongo district are actively involved in addressing the prevalent land conflicts. He also extended a welcome to Witness Radio, acknowledging their collaborative efforts in tackling and resolving land and environmental issues in the district.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the land rights together with environmental rights have been violated in our district, but because we don’t know what our rights are, because we have not directly done what we could to safeguard our rights and now this is the time that Witness Radio has brought us together to safeguard our rights. I want to welcome you in Kiryandongo and be rest assured that we shall give you all the necessary support to help us manage these rampant cases,” Ms. Adyeri said in her remarks during the dialogue meeting.

The team leader at Witness Radio Uganda, Mr. Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala expressed gratitude to the participants for their active involvement in the dialogue and revealed that Witness Radio’s objective is to find a holistic solution to the escalating land disputes in Kiryandongo district serving as an example to other districts.

“We are here to assist Kiryandongo district in attaining peace and stability because it stands as a hotspot for land grabbers in Uganda. Mismanagement of land conflicts in Uganda could potentially lead to a significant internal conflict. Everywhere you turn, voices are lamenting the loss of their land and property. Kiryandongo, abundant with ranches, suffers from a lack of a structured framework, which amplifies these land conflicts. The influx of wealthy investors further complicates the situation,” Mr. Ssebaggala disclosed.

Within the dialogue, Mr. Ssebaggala emphasized the need for the Kiryandongo district council to pass a by-law aimed at curbing land evictions as an initial step in addressing the prevalent land injustices.

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Kiryandongo authorities decry rising cases of land disputes



The LC5 chairperson of Kiryandongo, Ms Edith Aliguma Adyeri, has saidnland dispute has impacted on people’s lives, dignity and children’s education in the district.

Just like other parts of Uganda, conflicts over land in Kiryandongo arise when individuals – who often are blood relatives – compete for use of the same parcel of land or when members of the community lay claim over ownership of unutilised government land.

Ms Adyeri further said land and environmental rights affect people both directly and indirectly, “and we are not hearing it from afar. It is already together with us [here], it has already affected us!”

She was speaking at a meeting which sought to discuss alternative remedies to salvage the appalling land and environmental rights situation in Kiryandongo at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The one-day dialogue was aimed at reflecting on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

It was attended by private companies, members of civil society and local government officials and organised by Witness Radio – an advocate for land and environmental rights in Uganda – in partnership with Oxfam, and Kiryandongo District leadership.

“Some people have even died, families are broken up, and brothers are not seeing eye-to-eye because of land rights. Access to justice is equally becoming very difficult because when you hire one lawyer that
lawyer will talk to learned friends, and they agree. They leave you in suspense,” Ms Adyeri said.

According to her, some children have not accessed education because of land and environmental rights.

Mr Jonathan Akweteireho, the deputy Resident District Commissioner of Kiryandongo, said enlightened people especially should be sensitive to the historical injustice of this area.

“We can never handle the Bonyoro land question without thinking about that history. It will be an injustice to the incomers, to the government and to the leaders who don’t understand,” he said.

“We had 38 ranches here which on the guidance of these international organisations, especially the World Bank, the government restructured them, allowing people to settle there, they were never given titles and up to today, there are big problems in all those ranches,” he added.

Mr Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the executive director of Witness Radio, said that a well-functional land sector supports land users or holders and investors, reduces inefficiencies and provides mechanisms to resolve land disputes.

Mr David Kyategeka, the secretary to the Kiryandongo District Land Board, said the issue of land rights is very clear but the major challenge has been sensitising the locals to know what rights he or she expects to enjoy out of this very important resource.


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