Family seeks to reclaim 49 acres from Lyantonde district

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Byehondozo and her daughter Kakako. Photos by Davis Buyondo

LYANTONDE -A family in Lyantonde is seeking to repossess its 49.05 acres of land said to be illegally occupied by the district local government for 14 years.

The contested land is located on Block 76, plot 50, Kaliiro ward ‘A’ in Kabula county. It currently houses the district administration block and other departmental offices plus other portions subdivided and allocated to different developers.

It is currently becoming a major land row since the claimant wants the district to vacate her land and compensate her for the period the have occupied it illegally.

Copies of relevant documents obtained by the New Vision indicate Joyce Byehondozo, 81, a resident of Kaliiro ‘A’ in Lyantonde town council, is the rightful owner of the land who originally possessed a title.

She was born on this land in 1939 and inherited it from her father __late Kinanigira who also inherited it from his father.

She explained that former President Apollo Milton Obote’s government took a small portion of land and put structures including a sub-county block, the house of the sub-county chief and a toilet.

Her woes date back to 1993 when Lyantonde was still under Rakai district administration. It is said that Rakai district bought the land from Byehondozo in 1993 which land it transferred to Lyantonde when it became an independent district in 2006.

But Byehondozo disputed the claim saying she did not sell her land to Rakai district or anyone as it is claimed.

She explained that after claiming her right over the disputed land, some unscrupulous district officials asked her to avail to them the duplication certificate of the title for verification.

This was done on an understanding that after the verification process the duplicate certificate of the title would be returned back to her.

However, Byehondozo did not receive her duplicate certificate of the title for her land from Rakai District as it had been agreed.

Her daughter Florence Kakako (67) and grandchildren are following up on the matter given the fact that the old lady is weak and can hardly move.

They later learnt that the then Rakai Administration registered itself at the lands office as the actual proprietor of the land without her knowledge and consent or any payment for consideration.

“Rakai district authorities fraudulently obtained the title of the land and we are treated as illegal occupants,” Kakako recounted.

In a letter dated July 17, 2018 addressed to the land commission secretariat, Muhanga and Associates, who represent the ill-fated family, it is indicated that in 2010, Lyantonde district had been entered on to the certificate of the title as the proprietor of the land.

And to their shock, Byehondozo and her family were served with a notice to vacate the land from Christopher Okumu, the Chief Administrative Officer dated June 15, 2015.

“Some claimed we were illegal occupants and they wanted us to vacate the land to pave a way for their development projects including a subdivision of plots to allocate them to different developers,” she said.

The family further holds the Lyantonde district and the Attorney General jointly liable for the continued trespass on their land and the eventual fraud in procuring the registration of the same land in their names as well as developing it illegally.

In May 2017, Byehondozo filed a claim in the High Court at Masaka intending for eviction orders against the district and the compensation.

Nevertheless, on June 30, 2017, the district and attorney general of Uganda entered their respective defence in the main suit.


Arnold Agira, Byehondozo’s son speaking to the reporters after the family camping at the CAO’s office

Statehouse intervenes

The matter came to the attention of President Yoweri Museveni. In a letter to the Lyantonde CAO, dated February 1, 2016, Flora Kiconco,
the Principal Private Secretary to President Yoweri Museveni, the matter was brought to the attention of the president who directed that the district should not interfere in Byehodozo’s occupation of land.

However, Kiconco added, this office continued to receive complaints from the complainant that the district officials had continued trespassing on her land, cultivating on it, and in the process of fencing it to deny her use.

“The purpose of this letter is to once again inform you about H.E the president’s directive and request you to ensure that Byehondozo enjoys a quiet possession of that land without any interference,” she noted. She further requested the CAO to prevail over the district officials who interfere with Byehondozo’s occupation on the said land until when the president intervenes.


Byehondozo sleeping at th CAO’s office

Temporary injunction

On February 14, 2018, Byehondozo entered a temporary injunction restraining- both parties, their agents, assignees, and others, from leasing, alienating, selling, or harassing or in any way interfering with each other’s’ occupation until the main suit is determined.

The matter was before her Worship-Beatrice Stella Atingu, the Assistant Registrar of the High Court of Uganda at Masaka.

Although the injunction was issued, the district did not halt its operations on the land. Different people were allocated portions of land for cultivation.

Last year, people who were allocated portions of land sprayed chemicals to dry the grass but Byehondozo’s family lost two cows after eating the sprayed grass.

In another letter dated February 19, 2018, Kiconco requests the Lyatonde RDC to ensure that both parties (complainant and the defendants) abide by the court order.

And last week, according to Arnold Agira, one of Byehondozo’s children, another district staff sprayed with chemicals a portion of land measuring half an acre.

He argued that they were provoked to storm the CAO’s office due to the increasing violation of the injunction.

“We honored the injunction but the district is still allocating people land. We have reached the RDC’s office, CAO, Police but no one has bothered assisting us,” he said.

However, Byehondozo’s family has appealed to Col. Edith Nakalema, the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit of State House, to investigate the corruption and increasing theft of land in Lyantonde especially their 49.05 acres which the district took.


District intervenes

A delegation of top district officials toured the land on Tuesday.

They include Catherine Kamwiine, the Resident District Commissioner, David Lubuuka, the Chief Administrative Officer, Jamal Kanyesigye, the District Police Commander, DISO- and Fred Muhangi, the Lyantonde LC5 chairperson.

Led by Kamwiine, the officials first held a closed meeting with the family members to dialogue over the longstanding grievances.

They later toured the land and halted several activities mainly farming as well as warning people who were cultivating the land illegally.

Former RDC speaks

Sulaiman Tuguragara Matojo, the former Lyantonde RDC, said that the matter came to his office and statehouse intervened and built her a new house on the land as they wait for the court decision on the matter.

He explained that his office had earlier advised the two parties to sit and agree on the compensation plan but the family wanted eviction of the district headquarters which has cost over a billion shillings to build.

He explained that the family was only paid sh11m as compensated for the portion of land measuring about half an acre which Obote’s government has occupied.