WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES
Land grabbers target private properties in Jinja
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
Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.
Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.
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
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.
WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES
Witness Radio Uganda wins the best CSO land rights defenders award at the National Land Forum Awards.
By Witness Radio Team
Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog, Witness Radio has been awarded the best CSO land rights defender award 2022 in the recently concluded National Land Forum Awards held last week at Mestil hotel in Kampala.
Witness Radio’s executive Director, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala attributed the award to the community land and environmental rights defenders who stand up against the intimidation and different forms of harassment from land grabbers (economically powerful and politically connected companies and individual investors).
“This is an award for defenders at a community level. They work in very deadly environments filled with harassment, torture, death threats, arrest, trumped-up charges, and kidnaps among others to advocate for community land and environment rights. This is happening at a spate where criminalization and silencing of community land rights defenders are at increase.” Jeff added.
The award has come at a time when hundreds of Ugandans in different parts of the country are accessing services provided by the organization ranging from legal service provisions, non-judicial mechanism engagements, empowerment to help them understand their rights, and using the same knowledge to use the same skills to push back against illegal and forced evictions
The chairman of the organizing committee of the second National Land Forum, Mr. Jimmy Ochom noted some progress on legislation in Uganda’s land Governance. He cited growing inequalities on land where the poor are more vulnerable.
During awards, the state minister for housing, Hon persis Namuganza revealed that the government approved the plan for 2018-2040 that maps the land use in the country.
According to the minister, the government had identified land for settlement, game reserves, wildlife, arable land for farming, and water bodies among others in the plan which she said was passed a few weeks ago.
The event was organized by Oxfam and partners and provided a platform for discussions by the different actors in the land sector on issues around land governance, including land rights, land administration, and land governance for improved collaboration, cooperation between the actors, and improved land service delivery for Ugandans under a theme “Taking stock of the National Land Policy in addressing Land inequality in addressing Land inequality in Uganda.”
Other categories of awards that were won by different organizations and individuals including Mr. Eddie Nsamba-Gayiiya for his contribution to research on land rights, Justice Centers Uganda for Promoting Access to Land Justice, and Mr. Henry Harrison Irumba for Championing Legal Reforms among others.
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