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Land probe halts Shs100b compensation
Arrested. The UETCL Principal Environment Officer, Mr John Othieno (centre), appears before the land probe in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO by EPHRAIM KASOZI
KAMPALA: The Commission of Inquiry into land matters has blocked payment of more than Shs110b for compensation to three claimants until investigations into the matter have been concluded.
The money was meant to compensate claimants of rock reserves where Isimba Hydro-power project in Kayunga District will be built.
“…All payments due over funds appropriated in the 2018/2019 budget in respect of the rock reserves along Isimba Hydro-power project [should] be halted. The Commission of Inquiry took interest in investigating the issue of compensation of rock reserves in respect of Isimba Power project,” the Commission chairperson, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire ordered yesterday.
The order followed a petition by chairman of the Project Steering Committee for Karuma and Isimba hydro-power projects Mr Badru Kiggundu.
“The complaint was that a number of project affected persons were duly compensated by the government and contrary to the law, they lodged claim for additional compensation for natural rocks on the lands totaling to Shs600b,” Justice Bamugemereire noted.
She said preliminary findings of the Commission show the said claims have no basis in law and are driven by corrupt motives.
“The Commission is perturbed by the reports that notwithstanding the ongoing investigations by the Commission, the Finance ministry has earmarked Shs100 billion out of the financial year 2018/2019 for the payment of dubious claims in respect of Isimba Hydro-power project,” she said.
The Commission also blocked Shs7b in compensation for property at Mutungo Hill in Kampala due to an ownership dispute between a one Dr Muhammad Buule Kasasa and beneficiaries of the estate of the late Sir Edward Muteesa.
In addition, the Commission blocked Shs6b payment to American Procurement Company (Amproc).
Justice Bamugemereire said the Commission received information that the said land is subject of compensation by the Uganda Land Commission using the Land Fund where Shs2.4b has already been paid out and a further Shs7b is pending.
She also said the land is under dispute in court.
“The purpose of this letter is to direct the permanent secretary and Secretary to the Treasury and minister of Finance to halt any further payment for the above mentioned land as the Commission proceeds with its investigations in this matter. We hope that the payment of Shs7b, which was due yesterday [Tuesday] was halted and this letter was sent out in time,” Justice Bamugemereire ordered.
Earlier in the day, the Commission ordered the arrest of a senior officer at Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) over valuation of titles for land in government forest and wetland reserves.
Mr John Othieno, the UETCL principal environment officer, was arrested for his role in the valuation and compensation of contested land titles in Nambigirwa wetland, Mugomba and Gunda forest reserves in Entebbe and wetlands in Luzira and Kinawataka in Kampala as well as Namanve Forest Reserve near Mukono.
Justice Bamugemereire ordered police to take Mr Othieno to make a statement.
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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