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Land defender forced to sign a land sell agreement in prison to be saved from serving a jail sentence.

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Bukenya Paul in a green shirt

By witnessradio.org Team

Having been sentenced to three years in prison by the Mubende Chief Magistrate’s court for attempting to murder a one Matia Muhanguzi, Bukenya Paul never knew that he would lose his land to his former accuser.

After serving six months of his jail sentence, Bukenya received Muhanguzi in prison and coerced him to surrender his land and that of the 400 families in the exchange of aborting his jail sentence. According to Bukenya, Muhanguzi promised to ask the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to pardon him if he agrees to freely give away both his and the community land. This is simply untenable under the law since Bukenya is already a convict and could only obtain his freedoms  if his appeal at the High Court is successfully.

Though this was sheer trickery,  documents that witnessradio.org has obtained  show that Bukenya fell for Muhanguzi’s scheme. On December, 31, 2018, while Bukenya was holed up in Kaweeri government prison, Muhanguzi gave him visit and consequently made him to sign an agreement in which the convict (Bukenya) surrendered his land and that of 400 families to Muhanguzi.  

Bukenya insists that the charges were trumped up. According to him, the real reason as to why he was arrested  and consequently convicted was because he led community at Nabisisi village, Kyayi parish , Kasanda District in resisting Muhanguzi’ move to evict  them from their land which is approximately 3 square -miles. It’s Bukenya’s assertion that Muhanguzi wants to evict over 400 families from their land. Bukenya himself has 80 acres of land  which he has been using to obtain a livelihood- farming.

The purported agreement, which was written in  Luganda, shows that Muhanguzi had powers over the land to the extent  that he was now giving away 5 acres of land to fishermen of Kyayi landing site.  These acres are curved from Nabisisi estate block 427, plot 73 found in Kyayi estate, Nabisisi.

Simeo Nsubuga, the   Kasanda South Member of parliament together with Kaweeri prison authorities were present as witnesses when this bizarre agreement was being signed, sources familiar with this case told witnessradio.org.  

The agreement, which was signed while Bukenya’s wife and his nine children are in Muyinayina prison also facing frivolous attempted murder charges, says that Muhanguzi had done Bukenya’s family a favour.  This favor, is in respect to the fact that Muhanguzi , in the agreement ,claims to have donated 20 acres to Bukenya and his family. Shortly after Bukenya signed the agreement, sources say Muhanguzi who was aided by Kaweeri prison authorities , sneaked Bukenya out of prison,  purposely to do a locus visit on his land.

“Mr Matia Muhanguzi  is going to make a statement to withdraw all the charges from court and police. Furthermore the court and the DPP will rely on the statement to free prisoners who are now held at Kaweeri prisons who include  Paul Bukenya,” the agreement written in Luganda reads. The agreement also states that Bukenya who was serving the jail term of three years should be freed since they had buried the hatchet, apparently.

Under the guise of saving him from prison, Bukenya says that he was forced to sign the agreement.

 

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The World Bank project affected persons have petitioned the court seeking to halt an illegal eviction by capital authority

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By witnessradio.org Team

 

Kampala – Uganda – more than 300 families at Kawaala Zone II, Lubaga Division in Kampala district have today, the 11th January 2021 petitioned the court seeking to restrain the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) from illegally evicting them off their land, which they have lawfully occupied and cultivated for decades.

 

The affected families through Witness Radio lawyers accuse KCCA of hiding under the Public Health Act to issue a demolition notice targeting all properties on the land to give way for construction of a multi-billion drainage channel, which is funded by the World Bank. KCCA is established by an act of Parliament and it’s responsible for the management and administration of the capital city.

 

Specifically, KCCA is using section 72(1) cap 281 of the Public Health Act, to force them off their land without consultation, sensitization, property valuation, and compensation claiming that they (residents) illegally constructed their houses in a wetland.

 

The court action follows Witness Radio and the affected attempted to engage KCCA over the irrational decision however efforts to hear from them were futile.

 

In 2015, KCCA acquired USD 175 million loan from the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) for Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP) project. However, part of the money (USD 17.5 million, which is 63 billion Uganda shillings) was earmarked to construct Lubigi Primary Channel and it’s being used to dispossess poor urban communities without consultation, sensitization, and infringed communities’ right to know and access to information.

 

The 2.58 Kilometers project expected to end later this year, stretches from Bwaise roundabout to Hoima road, southwest of Kampala.

 

The eviction is taking place at the time when the government of Uganda halted all land evictions during the COVID 19 pandemic and the determination of KCCA to forcefully evict the urban poor raises many legal questions.

 

The victims want the court to issue an interim order and temporary injunction to restrain KCCA from implementing the decisions that are being challenged.

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Renewing demand for justice; the 28 land rights defenders have applied for bail

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By witnessradio.org Team

Mubende – Uganda – the defense lawyers of the 28 community land rights defenders have filed new applications for bail at Mubende High Court after spending 3 years in prison.

The 28 include two staff members of Witnessradio.org‘s Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald.

Others are; Mugisha Focus, Ssekamana Kaloli, Mwikirize Keleti, Ssewanyana Kizza John, Tumwine Moses, Bigirwa Gilbert, Mulindwa Tadeo, Kayesu Patrick, Kyalimpa Tobias, Mugisha Stephen, Mwesigye John, Kiiza John Bosco, Byakatonda Aroon, Manirikiza Elidefunce, Tabalamule William, Kobwemi Christopher,  Kiwanuka Emmanuel, Senkula Charles, Ssemombwe George, Musinguzi Paul, Biryomumisho Fred, Maniriho Forodis,  Habimana Ernest, Byaruhanga Emmanuel, Mwesigye Julius and Kezaala Saul.

They are facing 9 counts including murder, and aggravated robbery among others.

The prosecution alleges that on October 12, 2018, the accused at Kambuye-Kanseera, Mubende district, killed and robbed Yunus Kasajja Tabu of his three mobile phones.

Late Tabu allegedly died during a fight with land grab affected community whose assailants are still unknown. Tabu was a manager of local businessman one Kaweesi George, under the protection of police grabbed 322.5 hectares and violently evicted over 3500 lawful occupants on Block 168; Plot 19, 22 and 23 covering five villages namely; Kambuye, Kikono, Kyabaana, Kanseera and Lwensanga in East Division, Mubende Municipality, Mubende district. The land is adjacent to Kaweeri Coffee Plantation is covering on.

However, police carried out a random arrest and targeted land rights defenders and activists that were mobilizing and empowering the landgrab affected community to resist an illegal and forceful eviction.

In January 2019, the attempt to get bail for witnessradio.org‘s Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald was denied High Court in Mubende’s justice Joseph Mulangira.

According to officials at Mubende High Court, bail applications will be heard this afternoon.

 

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More than 800 families face eviction, petition district land Board

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By witnessradio.org Team

 

Mubende – Uganda – More than 800 families from Kyamukoona, Kijojolo and Kalagala villages- Mubende District have petitioned the district land board to immediately cancel the land title that was fraudulently issued out to one Samuel Wambi Maamali. They explain that the cancellation will avert the looming eviction.

 

The lease was issued out on August, 1st 2015, a process the community regarded as fraudulent because the title was acquired from the center (Land Commission), which contradicts the legal procedures of acquiring a freehold title.

 

The community members stated that the person who fraudulently acquired a land title never consulted the area, parish and sub-county land boards that should have advised and guided on whether the land was lawfully being occupied and cultivated.

 

The residents revealed that they have occupied the land for more than 40 years, and it houses government-aided schools, hospitals, churches, and several vital infrastructures.

 

It is reported that the residents, local leaders, and Maamali held a meeting in 2019 in which (Maamali) said he was not interested in the land because his initial interest was on a land situated at Kalingo LC1 Mugungulu Parish- Bagezza Sub country –Mubende district not that of Kyamukoona. He later asked the residents to refund the money (UGX 200, 000) which he claims having used to survey and demarcate the 1.5 mile land, which they without hesitation accepted.

 

However, Maamali overturned the meeting resolution as he has since issued the residents with an eviction notice.

 

“I have occupied this land for the last over  40 years, well knowing that this is public land but I was astonished to learn that the District Land Board went ahead and illegally processed a land title for block 240 Plot 12, which is totally wrong” Bwambale reveals.

 

Ahimbisibwe David, a resident of Kijojolo Cell says “I wanted to formalize my land ownership. I was shocked to learn that it was already surveyed by an unknown person in the area”.

 

It is alleged that the district land board has previously leased out people’s land to tycoons without following proper legal procedures.

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