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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.

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Accountable Development To Communities

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.

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Naava while entering court cells at  Mubende.

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. 

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

Six community land rights defenders from Kawaala have turned up at police for interrogations but, failed to take off

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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.

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

A self-claimed landlord who masterminded the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders for three years has been arrested.

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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.

 

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