Last week, former minister Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi, unsuccessfully tried to stop court bailiffs from enforcing an eviction order given by Makindye magistrate Richard Mafabi.
This was the climax of a 26-year battle for land measuring 1.2 acres in Kyamula Zone, Salama in Makindye division of Kampala. The Observer talked to James Mubiru with whom Muhwezi has been feuding over the land.
Mubiru’s father, George Ssekajjugo, died in 1987 when he was three years old, leaving him and his sister Nabunjo Nammande under the care of their paternal uncle Nathan Ssewambwa.
Together with their mother, they left their home that sat on a 1.2 acre piece of land and joined the Ssewambwa homestead within the same locality.
However, they kept on using the land for farming until one day in 1992 when strangers claiming to have bought the land showed up at his uncle’s home to introduce themselves as the new landlords. Puzzled, Ssewambwa asked who had sold them the land seeing that the only two orphans; Mubiru and Nabunjo hadn’t come of age.
Ssewambwa decided to take the matter to the Local Council committee. He got little help. When Mubiru, the heir eventually became of age, he joined his uncle to pursue justice.
“After some time, the people who claim to have bought the land came and razed down my father’s house and also exhumed his remains,” Mubiru told The Observer.
A sympathetic member of the L-CII committee eventually introduced him to one William Hitimana who claimed he had bought the land from one Naome Batuusa. Mubiru says neither him nor his uncle knew anything about Batuusa who had claimed to be the caretaker of the orphans.
Hitimana told Mubiru that now that he had learnt that he had been swindled, he wanted to legally purchase the land after all.
“I asked him where he buried the remains of my father and he said he threw them in the lake because he didn’t want emizimu gy’Abaganda [Buganda’s spirits] to disturb him,” Mubiru says.
LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
Growing old and weak, Ssewambwa handed over all the paperwork relating to the land to Mubiru to start administering his father’s estate. With the assistance of LC-I chairman of Kyamula and his clan leaders who wrote to the administrator general, a letter of no-objection was obtained.
He was advised by the administrator general to get powers of attorney which were later given by then High court judge Remmy Kasule on July 12, 2005. Not much was heard of Hitimana until 2012 when Mubiru started the process of getting a lease from Buganda Land Board (BLB); the owners
of the land. In his first meeting, Hitimana had indicated a willingness to properly buy the land from Mubiru. But on discovering that he wasn’t willing to sell, he resorted to threats. Mubiru says Hitimana called someone whom he later learnt was Muhwezi.
“He asked Muhwezi what they should do for me, Muhwezi told him that he should just ignore me because I was useless,” Mubiru says.
He adds that Hitimana told him that it was in his interest to sell the land because if he doesn’t, he would lose it.
After the encounter, Mubiru still obtained an ownership certificate from BLB. He was given a go-ahead to survey the land so that they could determine how much money he would pay in busuulu [rental fees].
When the surveyors started surveying the land, Hitimana rose up again and through the LC-I chairman of Kyamula village, Kakooza Lukyamuzi, ordered the exercise stopped until the ownership wrangles are resolved.
The BLB’s standing orders prohibit surveying of any piece of land if there are some conflicts relating to owner- ship. When the exercise was stopped, Mubiru lodged a petition with High court at Nakawa and opened up a case against Hitimana.
The file was first transferred to the Anti-Corruption division then eventually forwarded to the Land division under High court judge, Joseph Murangira.
Muhwezi through his lawyer Ahmed Kalule Mukasa applied to become a party to the suit. He asked court for four months’ adjournment to justify why he was an interested party.
“But within those months, UPDF soldiers were deployed at our home and they arrested everybody they got there and took them to Kibuye police station,” Mubiru says.
Among the five arrested, three who were not related to Mubiru were released. Two were charged in the Makindye magistrate’s court with three counts of treason, attempted murder of Muhwezi and criminal trespass. Esther Nambayo, the then chief magistrate, remanded them to Luzira prison.
“I ran to the State House office in charge of land matters then led by Hajji Sseddunga who after studying the case wrote to the court telling them the circumstances surrounding their arrest. They were released on bail,” Mubiru says.
However, they continued to appear for mention of their case with the state attorney every time asking for an adjournment, claiming that investigations were incomplete. Nambayo eventually dismissed the case for lack of interest on the government side.
The five UPDF soldiers who had been deployed on the land never left until late 2013 when State House ordered them withdrawn. A two-roomed house was also erected on the land to house the soldiers. In place of the soldiers, private security guards were deployed.
In the court, after dismissing the case, the magistrate advised Mubiru and his cousins to streamline the ownership of the land.
Mubiru again sued Hitimana for malicious damage to property and trespass. Like in the previous cases, Hitimana refused to honour the summons, prompting court now under Richard Mafabi on March 30, 2015 to give its judgement, reinstating Mubiru as the rightful owner, and also awarding him Shs 10 million in damages.
Seeing that court had confirmed Mubiru as the owner, BLB gave him the green light to survey the land and get a lease title. Indeed, on June 6, 2015, Mubiru paid Shs 30 million to BLB for the land. But Muhwezi’s lawyer opposed the execution of the court order citing the presence of similar case in the High court.
Mubiru says he applied to that court to withdraw the case. He then went back to the magistrate’s court for fresh eviction orders which were granted and effected last week.
In 2015, BLB gave him surveyors to survey the land but their attempts were foiled by the private security guards. In the scuffle that ensued, involving shooting, the surveyors were arrested and taken to Kibuye police.
To secure their release, Mubiru was called to police. Three accounts; attempted murder of Muhwezi, criminal trespass and treason were slapped against him. Mubiru says for seven days he was locked up in a toilet.
“One night I was picked and taken to the OC’s office where I found a man in civilian clothes who asked me why I was refusing to vacate the land. The man asked me whether I knew him and I told him no. He then told me I will die because of that land; that I didn’t know the people I was fighting with,’ Mubiru remembers.
He says that night he was badly tortured and two of his teeth extracted using pliers. He now uses artificial dentures. He was later released on police bond and told to report there every after five days; a thing he did until January 2016 when he got tired.
For now, Muhwezi has petitioned the High court’s land division, asking them to review the magistrate’s decision. “[But] I’m hopeful that I will prevail because this is my land,” Mubiru says.
GEN MUHWEZI LAWYER RESPONDS
Gen Jim Muhwezi’s lawyer, Ahmed Kalule, said Mubiru used an illegal court order to effect the eviction.
“Gen Muhwezi is trying to correct a situation where Mubiru in clear abuse of the court process; filed illegal suits and executed orders which court has made clear to him will never be executed until the High court is done with the case,” Kalule said last week.
He said Mubiru has been disturbing Muhwezi since 2012 despite knowing that the general bought the land in 2005.
“He [Mubiru] filed a suit against the former owner of the land William Hitimana even when he was aware that Gen Muhwezi was the new owner of this land,” Kalule says.
Having filed a suit in the High court, all subsequent suits were illegal for as long as the High court had not pronounced itself on the matter.
Source: The Observer
Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels
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.
Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf
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
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