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WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES

Land grabbers target private properties in Jinja

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Jinja. On the morning of March 20, Mr Peter Kalibbala was in Lugazi Municipality on his way to Kampala when he received a call. “John is being evicted,” the caller told him.
“There must be some kind of mistake,” Mr Kalibbala thought, but still turned and sped back to Jinja District.
It was unthinkable that his associate, John Kirkwood, with whom they run the charity organisations; Tofta Education Trust, was being evicted from a property they had acquired in 2006 from the family of the late former Mayor of Jinja, J.B Lubandi.

Bailiffs had arrived at Plot 19 Wilson Avenue to effect the eviction. One Amina Negesa presented a title issued by the Lands registry on December 21, 2017, had a special certificate demanding Shs20m in rent, eviction of Mr Kirkwood and costs of the application.

That sparked off a legal battle that went from the Chief Magistrate’s Court to the High Court which on May 10 ruled in favour of Mr Kalibbala, allowing him to retake charge of the premises.
“It was a nightmare. One wonders how someone could simply show up with fake documents and lay claim to a property that she knew was not hers. I still find it hard to understand,” Mr Kalibbala says.
In Igombe Trading Centre in Buwenge Sub-county, Mr Fred Kiyuba and his family of 10 have been living as Internally Displaced Persons after being hounded out of their home by a former tenant, Mr Kato Kaziba, the NRM secretary general, in Jinja.

On November 29, 2011, he was detained at Buwenge Police Station for alleged trespass. Mr Kaziba claimed to have bought the house, but kept the agreement with Mr Kiyuba.
Since then, Mr Kiyuba has answered several cases, including assault and theft brought against him by Mr Kaziba.
In another case, Mr Moses Abdallah is battling Lt Col Frank Kyakonye who has declined to vacate a house on Plot 35 Madhvani Road in Jinja.

The house was repossessed on July 22, 1992 by Mohamedbhai Mitha who sold it and transferred its ownership to the names of Mr Moses Abdallah in July 2006.
Mr Abdallah asked the occupants to hand over the house, but Lt Col Kyakonye refused to vacate on grounds that it had been allocated to him by the Ministry of Defence.
This prompted Mr Abdallah to approach the army leadership.
On May 18, 2009, Lt Col Kyakonye signed an agreement before the then Chief of Staff of Land Forces, Brigadier, now Lt Gen Charles Angina, committing himself to leave the house within a month but did not.

The aforementioned cases, however, highlight the bigger challenge of land and property grabbing in Jinja over the last 25 years.
In the case of Wilson Road saga, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Dorcus Okalanyi, told Daily Monitor in an interview that: “An error could have occurred and it will be corrected if it happened, but such cases will certainly be wiped out by the computerisation of the land registry.” Some police officers have also been accused of siding with land grabbers.

Four senior police officers, Julius Twinomujuni, Edgar Nyabongo, Apollo Kateeba and Felix Mugizi have been on suspension from the Force since July 2017 for their role in the illegal demolition of a government building in Jinja Town.
However, police spokesperson Emillian Kayima says they act on orders.
“Property fights are quite tricky so the police have to play by the book. The Force supports a system. It acts on orders from the courts and in the presence of bailiffs. It does not matter whether we like you or not,” Mr Kayima says.

Most of the property fights have been centered on properties formerly under the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB).
The board has continued issuing “temporary allocations” even when properties were either sold or repossessed. Property owners are as a result caught up in ownership disputes with former tenants.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, acknowledges that DAPCB has been beset by problems, but adds that they are being addressed.
“We are taking stock of what is at DAPCB. There have been so many irregular transactions. I expect the report to be out by December. That should help us decisively end talk of temporary allocations and other irregularities,” Mr Kasaija says.

Source: Daily Monitor

DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.

From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.

The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.

In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.

The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to

  • fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
  • avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
  • strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.

Source: iisd.org

Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf

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PETITIONS

Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.

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The Commandant,

Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.

Dear Sir/Madam;

RE: COMPLAINT AGAINST UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF THE DPC KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT FOR AIDING AND ABETTING LAND GRABBING IN NYAMUTENDE KITWARA PARISH KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT AND CARRYING OUT ILLEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTION OF INNOCENT RESIDENTS/ BIBANJA OWNERS FOR PROTESTING AGAINST THE ILLEGAL EVICTION FROM THEIR LAND.

We act for and behalf of the Lawful and bonafide occupants of Land described as LRV MAS 2 FOLIO 8 BLOCK 8 PLOT 22 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS RANCH 22).

Our Clients are residents of Nyamutende Village, Kitwara Parish in Kiryandongo District where they have lived for more than 30 years and sometime in 2017, they applied for a lease of the said Land to Kiryandongo District Land Board through the Directorate of Land Matters State House.

As they were still awaiting their Application to be processed, they were shocked to establish that the said land had been instead leased to and registered in the names of Isingoma Julius, Mwesige Simon, John Musokota William, Tumusiime Gerald, Wabwire Messener Gabriel, Ocema Richard and Wilson Shikhama, some of whom were not known to the Complainants. A copy of the Search is attached hereto

Our clients protested the above action and appealed to relevant offices, but were shocked to discover that the above persons had gone ahead and sold the same to a one Maseruka Robert.

Aggrieved by these actions, the Complainants appealed to the RDC who advised them to institute proceedings against the said persons, and assigned them a one Mbabazi Samuel to assist them to that effect. The said Mbabazi accordingly filed Civil Suit Noa 46 of 2019 against tne said registered proprietors at Masindi High Court challenging the illegal and fraudulent registration, sale and transfer of the subject land to Maseruka Robert.

While awaiting the progress of the case mentioned hereinabove, the Complainants were surprised to find that the said Mbabazi, instead of assisting them, he went into a consent settling the said suit on their behalf without their knowledge or consent. A copy of the Consent is attached hereto.

Among the terms of the said consent Judgment was that the residents would be compensated without specifying how much and would in return vacate the Land.

As if that was not enough, Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel are going ahead to execute the said Consent Judgment by forcefully evicting the occupants without compensation which has prompted the complainants to challenge the said Consent by applying for its review and setting aside at Masindi High Court which is coming up for hearing on the 29th March 2023. A copy of the Application is attached hereto.

Sensing the imminent threat of eviction, we also filed an application for interim stay of execution of the said consent to avoid rendering their application for review nugatory but unfortunately the same could not be heard on the date it was fixed for hearing (6th February 2023). A copy of the Application is attached hereto

On Thursday last week, three tractors being operated by 6 workers of a one Mbabazi Samuel [the very person who had been entrusted to represent our Clients to secure their Land through Civil Suit No.46 of 2019] encroached close to 50 acres of our Clients’ land and started ploughing it but our Client’s protested and chased them away.

We have however been shocked to receive information from our Clients that on Sunday at Mid night, 3 police patrols invaded the community in the night and arrested community members; Mulenje Jack, Steven Kagyenji, Mulekwa David, Ntambala Geoffrey, Tumukunde Isaac 15 years, Kanunu Innocent, Mukombozi Frank, Kuzara, Rwamunyankole Enock, and took them to Kiryandongo Police Station where they are currently detained.

We strongly protest the illegal arrests and detention of our Clients as this is a carefully orchestrated land grabbing scheme by Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel who are  receiving support from the DPC Kiryandongo.

The purpose of this Letter therefore is to request your good office to investigate the misconduct, abuse of office and unprofessionalism of the said DPC Kiryandongo District and all his involvement in the land grabbing schemes on land formerly known as Ranch 22.

Looking forward to your urgent intervention,

C.C The Head Police Land Protection Unit Police Head Quarters Naguru

CC The RDC Kiryandongo District

CC The Chairman LCVKityadongo District

CC The Regional Police CommanderAlbertine Region

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WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES

The Executive Director of Witness Radio Uganda talks about the role played by Witness Radio in protecting communities affected by large-scale agribusinesses in Kiryandongo district in an interview with the ILC.

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