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Land probe saved government over Shs1 trillion in irregular payments, says Bamugemereire



Justice Catherine Bamugemereire addressing journalists in Kampala on November 8, 2019. PHOTO BY RUTH ANDERAH 

The commission of inquiry into land matters chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has closed its public hearings today (November 8) after 30 months of probing into the acquisition, administration, registration and management of land in Uganda.
Justice Bamugemereire told journalists on Friday that the commissioners, who include Rose Nakayi, Mary Oduka Ochan, Robert Ssebunya, Fred Ruhindi, George Bagonza Tinkamanyire and Joyce Habaasa Gunze, will embark on writing their report and submit it to President Museveni.

She said about 7,767 complaints had been registered with the commission as of November 8, 2019. Of these, about 50 percent are related to land grabbing, evictions, corruption and fraudulent practices in land.

“The main investigation we have been handling is trying to answer the land question in Uganda. The land question in Uganda remains unanswered from the precolonial, colonial and current time. We have inquired broadly and that inquiry had led us into looking detailed question how area land committees, District land boards, Uganda Land Commission and related bodies administer and then how the office of the commissioner of land registration registers land in Uganda,” Justice Bamugemereire told journalists in Kampala on Friday.

She also said her commission had saved the government over Shs1 trillion which would have been spent on irregular payments and compensations, among other interim achievements include saving titling of protected areas such as forests and wetlands. Other interim achievements by the commission included highlighting the inhumane way evictions are done which triggered the judiciary to issue new land eviction guidelines.

“We have had hundreds of public hearings a few thousand witnesses. In our time as a commission of inquiry, we have been able to save the government of Uganda over Shs1 trillion in irregular payments. We have exposed and halted what would have been titling in wetlands, forests and lakes and wildlife conservation areas. Over 160 titles in Kinawataka, Namanve and Nambigirwa wetlands, Mugomba Central Forest, Bunda Central Forest. This commission was able to discover irregularities in the payments of land funds. We were able to save billions of shillings which would have been illegally paid out,” she added.

However, Justice Bamugemereire noted that throughout their 30-month journey of broadly inquiring into the land question and dealing with norms, customs and beliefs of various people, she has found out that conflicts are caused by the way people look at the land.

“This commission has heard situations where we have seen conflicts; physical and sometimes hypothetical. We have dealt with situations of power differences where we have many people who come to us being indigents; what would be called legally indigents on one hand and on the other hand, we have had powerful people who have access to power, money and elements of coercion and can cause the physical taking of land and many times, this commission has stood in between,” she added.
The commission’s first tenure was six months and ended on November 9, 2017. President Museveni renewed it upto May 9, 2018. It was again renewed for 18 months.

Source: Daily Monitor


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



The Commandant,

Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.

Dear Sir/Madam;


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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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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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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