A Court of Appeal judge has in a no-holds-barred missive exposed the rot in courts and Judiciary, offered evidence on how judges connive with land grabbers, and lashed out at what she called the “wanton abuse” of criminal justice system.
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, who also chairs the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters has condemned “bogus judgements and orders” in the eviction of bibanja holders, and warned that if the Judiciary, the third arm of the State, “does not rise to the occasion, it will be captured wholly by land grabbers and used as a catalyst of untold social distress arising from pressure on land”.
Justice Bamugemereire’s verbal assault on the abuse of courts at a news conference on Friday, came four years after Anup Singh Choudry, a retired High Court judge also complained about corruption in the ‘temple of justice’ and accused senior lawyers and judges of conniving with the Attorney General’s office to defraud “impoverished” Ugandans.
Call for action
The judge called for stern action against a racket of ‘mafias’ in the country’s judicial system.
Criticising judges, Justice Bamugemereire said her team encountered a rising number of orders, rulings, judgments and injunctions entered by judicial officers which have led to eviction of thousands of bibanja holders [bona fide tenants] or giving away protected land like forest reserves and wetlands countrywide. She has recommended an urgent review of all judgments issued by the courts on matters of land.
Judiciary’s senior communications officer Solomon Muyita told Sunday Monitor that the Judiciary’s top management would convene soon next week to respond to Justice Bamugemereire’ s concerns.
He said the meeting will come up with possible solutions, adding: “There has been engagements before and the Judiciary also appeared and gave their position on some of those issues.”
Bamugemereire’s full statement
Date: October 26, 2018
Press release on the presenting role of the judiciary in catalysing rising land distress, grabbing of protected and fragile areas causing landlessness and a state of lawlessness.
The commission of inquiry has recently been faced with a number of developments on land for which a deserving press brief needs to be given. Notably, in the process of inquiring into the effectiveness of law, policies and processes of land in Uganda, the commission of inquiry has encountered a rising number of orders, rulings, judgments, and injunctions entered by judicial officers which have led to the eviction of thousands of bibanja holders or the giving away of land protected by gazette as a forest or wetland.
In a recent judgment, arising out of Civil Suit 885 of 2017, Justice Godfrey Namundi, on June 28 2018, ruled that about one square mile that is actually part of Kajjansi Central Forest Reserve belonged to Eria Mubiru, Vivian Keza and Peninah Busingye Kabingani, simply because they have land titles over the land.
This ruling was made in spite of the fact that a copy of the Legal Notices gazetting the forest, dated 1932, 1948, 1968 and 1998, were tendered as evidence before court. The judge declared National Forestry Authority (NFA) trespassers on the “forest reserve” because they had attempted to stop the encroachment, and awarded costs of the suit plus general damages of Shs200m against NFA. This judgement carries the import of degazetting a central forest reserve. Degazetting is the sole preserve of the Parliament of Uganda and not the High Court of the Judiciary of Uganda.
Relatedly, up to four court orders have been granted over Namanve Forest Reserve where titles were issued on an existent forest reserve. As a result of originating summons No. 9 of 2014, up to 50 private security guards were deployed on the land triggering a stand-off between UPDF [Uganda People’s Defence Forces] and NFA rangers. In this case, the court directed the commissioner of land registration to create hitherto non-existent plots in the forest reserve. Some judges and high-level government officers have been named in this forest reserve grab. The commission notes that speculators who get insider information on where future projects will be situated, desire titles in areas such as central forest reserves hoping to be paid astronomical compensation arising out infrastructural project over such areas. The preceding area is one such area bringing a convergence of projects such as the Bukasa Port, the Standard Gauge Railway, among others.
Further, more than 12 square miles of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve have been handed to Hoima Sugar Works through a ruling of court that reversed the cancellation of title to the land by the commissioner of land registration.
The commission continues to investigate sand mining in Lwera where individuals collude with officials from National Environmental Management Agency (Nema). Nema grants licences to mine the sand. The individuals then use these licences to apply for lands titles whose issuance contravenes the law as they are made over gazetted areas. Such activities have threatened fish breeding areas of Lake Victoria whose effects can be potentially catastrophic.
Multiple evictions in Entebbe, Wakiso, Mityana and Mubende [districts] have all been authorised by judicial officers. Some of these matters are under investigation by the commission.
A self-claimed landlord who caused the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders on false charges was aligned before the court and charged with 28 counts.
By Witness Radio Team
A magistrate court at Mubende has charged a self-claimed landlord with 28 counts plus murder. Naava Milly Namutebi caused the arrest of six community land rights defenders, falsely accused them of murder, and got imprisoned for three years without trial.
Naava’s appearance before the court followed shortly after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) dropped murder charges against six community land rights defenders. These include; Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.
Naava was charged along with Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, Henry Kaaya, among others. They were not allowed to answer any charges as the court had no power to make legal decisions and judgments on charges read to them.
The prosecution alleges that Naava and others still at large, committed offenses in areas of Mubende and Kampala districts between 2006 and 2021.
From 2012 to date, Naava got help from the senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses while forcefully evicting over 4,000 people off their land.
The land being targeted measures 3.5 square miles covering villages including Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.
Naava and others accused were remanded to Kaweeri prison until 19th/July/2022.
Six community land rights defenders from Kawaala have turned up at police for interrogations but, failed to take off
By Witness Radio Team.
The six community land rights defenders from Kawaala zone II and the local leader that were summoned to appear at the Old Kampala Regional Police Headquarters have turned up, however, the interrogations did not take off due to the absence of the head of investigating team.
The six community defenders were required to report back to police for further investigations into alleged crimes that have not yet been officially disclosed to defenders’ lawyers. They were supposed to appear before the police investigation team today the 06th of July 2022 at 10:00 AM.
The defenders include; Kasozi Paul, Busobolwa Adam, Kabugo Micheal, Serugo Charles, Ssemanda David, Sserukwaya David, and the area vice-chairman Patrick Kato Lubwama.
While appearing before police for the first time last week on Wednesday 29th, the Deputy Assistant Inspector of Police (D/AIP) Domara Patrick who heads the investigations team casually said the defenders and the local leader are being investigated for obtaining money by pretense and forgery, which charges are not mentioned on police summons.
Since the first COVID outbreak in 2020, the victim defenders and others have been leading a pushback campaign to stop forced eviction by a multimillion dollars Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2) being implemented by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). The drainage channel construction is financed by the World Bank.
This project first impacted Kawaala Zone II around 2014, when a channel diversion was constructed. The current planned expansion will widen that channel and require forced evictions across an area at least 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long.
Witness Radio – Uganda has established that the Deputy Resident City Commissioner (RCC) in charge of Rubaga Division, Mr. Anderson Burora is among the complainants. Resident City Commissioner is a representative of the president in the Capital City at the division level.
Witness Radio – Uganda believes that police are being used to harass and intimidate defenders to back off the justice campaign for people negatively impacted by the drainage channel.
The defenders and the local council leader have been booked to report back to the police on Monday, the 11th of July 2022 at 9:00 AM local time.
A self-claimed landlord who masterminded the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders for three years has been arrested.
Naava being arrested by police.
By Witness Radio team.
A joint team of investigators from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from Kampala and the Mubende police arrested a self-claimed landlord who falsely accused six community land rights defenders of murder and led to a three years imprisonment without trial.
Naava Milly Namutebi was arrested at her farm in Kirwanyi in Mubende district with other alleged land dealers namely Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, and Henry Kaaya.
Naava’s arrest occurred a few days after the DPP dropped charges of murder against six community land rights defenders who had spent three years without trial. These include Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.
Since 2012, Naava with the help of senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende have orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses against over 4,000 people to evict them off their land. The land is measuring 3.5 square miles covering villages namely Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.
According to locals, Mubende police acting on Naava’s orders arbitrarily arrested and unlawfully detained dozens and dozens of land owners at different police stations in the district. Several victims allege they had to pay colossal sums of money to be released.
For many years, Mubende district has been one of the forced eviction hotspots where families are forced off their land with compensation or being offered settlement. Witness Radio’s one-year research report released in 2017 revealed that over 60% of the total grabbed land in the district was stollen by local investors.
Witness Radio – Uganda research indicates that Naava is involved in multiple land grabs with the help of government security apparatus. In 2017, residents namely Ruhobana Dombo, Samuel Ndekezi, and Chleopus Zariwa from the Butoloogo sub-county in Mubende district were arbitrarily arrested and detained on Naava’s orders by Mubende police.
The victims and other residents lawfully occupied and cultivated their land for decades but got shocked to hear that Naava was claiming ownership of their land.
The trio had gone to their gardens to plant maize on August 17, 2017, when Naava’s stick-wielding laborers attacked and severely beat them.
Naava is currently held at Mubende Central Police Station, with 28 charges including murder, attempted murder, forgery, and others preferred against her.
Accountable Development To Communities3 days ago
After 15 years of anguish, NFC evictees reunite to rent land to fight food insecurity
Defending Land And Environmental Rights2 weeks ago
Kawaala community land rights defenders will report for police bond for the fourth time on 1st August.
Environment And Renewable Energy1 week ago
Museveni barks but Chinese refuse to leave wetlands.
Media For Change Network5 days ago
Cosase wants Kamya, Kasaija punished over Shs10b saga
farm news1 week ago
How dry spells have affected milk supply
farm news2 days ago
Farmers in Bunyoro counting losses as dry spell continues to bite
Media For Change Network5 days ago
Kikuube residents say Museveni misled on Kyangwali land.