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Minister Amongi faces land probe for the second time
Lands minister Betty Amongi has today appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into land matters for the second time to answer questions regarding Asian property dispute and management of the land fund.
Ms Amongi yesterday appeared before the Commission for grilling after President Museveni directed her to heed to Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s summons.
This was after she shunned the first commission summons that directed her to appear on Monday, reasoning that she would first seek Cabinet approval.
Ms Amongi walked on Tuesday into the Commission’s hearing hall at the National Records and Archives Centre in Wandegeya at 12.30pm and was grilled on matters related to line minister’s role in handling of the land fund, issues related to her company, Amobet Investments limited and handling of dispute related to property on Plot 29 Acacia Avenue in Kololo.
She answered some of the questions but apparently the package of the questions the land probe had prepared for her was not exploited, thus directing her to appear for the second time, today.
On Friday last week, the land probe chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire quizzed Mr Albert Jethro Mugumya, the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) Undersecretary, in connection with the involvement of Ms Amongi in the management of land fund.
It is alleged that in 2016, Ms Amongi directed Mr Mugumya to effect payment of millions of shillings under the land fund contrary to her mandate.
Mr Mugumya admitted that Ms Amongi directed him to make the payments to various people citing special requests.
Mr Mugumya who declined to divulge details, testified that the minister’s involvement amounted to micro management of the land fund contrary to her role of providing policy guidelines.
Documents presented before the land probe shows that on November 23, 2016, Ms Amongi directed Mr Mugumya for urgent payment of land compensation of more than Shs620 million to nine people.
In another letter dated October 31, 2016, Ms Amongi directed Mr Mugumya to effect payments for special consideration to two sick persons.
According to the letter, the minister directed Mr Mugumya to advance Shs100 million out of Shs776,780,000 as payment claim for Ms Victoria Kakoko-Sebagereka who was very sick and due for treatment abroad, and Shs50million of Shs210 million to a one Mzee Kuriash Barinda of Isingiro.
“I have received many urgent pleas for consideration for payment from Uganda land fund which cannot all be accommodated this quarter due to limited funds. However, exceptional two cases that require our humanitarian considerations,” reads the minister’s letter.
In another letter dated November 29, 2017, Ms Amongi directed for payment of Shs675.8 million to Yisaka Lwakana for land at Kooki, Katete.
“The payments were effected basing on special requests as indicated in the minister’s letters and the land is known to ULC as per the records,” said Mr Mugumya adding that he complied with the minister’s directive upon making consultations with the chairman.
Evidence presented before the land probe indicates that Ms Amongi contravened the Public Service Standing Orders when she directed the accounting officer (Mugumya) instead of the ULC chairman to effect the payments.
Earlier on, Ms Amongi was accused before the Commission for allegedly attempting to fraudulently acquire and grabbing of property in upscale of Kololo, Kampala District.
The property in dispute is comprised on Plot 29 under leasehold number 235 Acacia Avenue in Kololo registered in the names of Toshak Munubhai Patel.
It is alleged that in December 2017, Ms Amongi through her company, Amobet Investments Limited acquired temporary possession of the property after it was repossessed by the Asian family in 1992.
Documents indicate that the allocation by Amobet Investments Limited was signed by George William Bizibu, the Executive Secretary of the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board.
Evidence presented before the seven-member Commission shows how government officials at the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) in connivance with businessmen and influential people in government offices fraudulently acquired billions of Shillings from the land fund.
The land fund was established under Section 41 of the Land Act to bring to an end the long standing conflict in regard to multiple interests on land in the counties of Bugangayizi and Buyaga, Bunyoro Sub region.
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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