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Resign, judge tells Minister Amongi



Accused of conflict of interest, Betty Amongi, the minister for Lands was nudged yesterday by a rather angry Justice Catherine Bamugemereire to resign.

Appearing before the Justice Bamugemereire-led Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters; Amongi tried hard but failed to separate herself from the questionable actions of her private company, AMOBET Investment Ltd.

According to the commission, the minister’s company forged land titles and fraudulently acquired four high-end government properties. The minister runs the company with her sister, Ketty Amongi, a Lira-based businesswoman.

During cross-examination, Justice Bamugemereire asked the minister whether she knew what conflict of interest means and the consequences it carries for a culpable senior government official such as a minister. Before she could answer, the judge asked the minister to read out loud the Leadership Code Act section 5 sub-sections 1 and section 12 sub-section 2.

In reading out loud, the minister said, “A leader cannot put himself or herself in a position in which his or her personal interests conflict with his or her duties and responsibilities. A leader shall not participate in the deliberations of a public body or board or council or commission or committee of which he or she is a member at any meetings at which any matter in which he or she has personal interest is to be discussed.”

She added, “A leader who contravenes that sub section 1 breaches the code and is liable to vacate office or be dismissed…”

“Don’t you see that this Leadership Code Act is asking you what to do?” the judge said, sending a rather tense minister and the audience gathered in the National Records Centre and Archives Building in Wandegeya into laughter.

Before she finally showed up yesterday at 9 o’clock, the minister had skipped two summonses, which prompted an angry Bamugemereire to issue the latest criminal summons.

Amongi is accused of attempting to fraudulently acquire property on Plot 29, Acacia avenue in Kololo, Kampala.

The property in dispute is under leasehold number 235 and registered in the names of Toshak Patel, an architect.

But the minister insisted that all operational functions of the company were executed by the managing director called Henry Mubiru.

Amongi denied knowing the disputed property on Plot 29, Acacia avenue. But documents in possession of the commission showed that the minister has in the past signed off many transactions as managing director of AMOBET.

It is alleged that inDecember 2017, Amongi through her company, AMOBET, 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 the executive secretary of the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB), George William Bizibu.

Bizibu who appeared before the Commission on May 7, made some contradictory statements and was subsequently detained for further questioning.

He was also instructed to present to the Commission, documents on the alleged board meetings he held. During cross examination, the seven Commissioners found that Bizibu, without the consent of the full DAPCB board, underestimated properties owned by government and doled them out at giveaway prices.

A case in point is the above mentioned property on Plot 29 Acacia Avenue which commands rent of US$9,000 per month, but was fraudulently allocated to somebody else at a paltry US$150 per month.

While there are no exact figures, reports indicate that government has lost billions of shilling through these shoddy dealings.

Last week, the land probe questioned the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) Undersecretary, Albert Jethro Mugumya, in regard to the minister’s hand in the management of the land fund. It is alleged that in 2016, Amongi directed Mugumya to pay millions of shillings under the Land Fund contrary to her mandate.

Mugumya said Amongi directed him to make the payments to various people citing special requests.

Mugumya who declined to divulge details, said Amongi’s involvement amounted to micro management of the land fund contrary to her role of providing policy guidelines.

Documents presented before the commission confirm that on November 23, 2016, the minister directed Mugumya to make an urgent payment of land compensation of more than Shs 620 million to nine people.

In another letter dated October 31, 2016, Amongi directed Mugumya to effect payments for special consideration to two sick persons.

According to the letter, the minister directed Mugumya to advance Shs 100 million out of Shs 776,780,000 to Victoria Kakoko-Sebagereka who was very sick and due for treatment abroad, and Shs 50 million to a one Mzee Kuriash Barinda of Isingiro.

In another letter dated November 29, 2017, Amongi directed the payment of Shs 675.8 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 Mugumya adding that he complied with the minister’s directive.

Evidence presented before the land probe indicates that Amongi contravened the Public Service Standing Orders when she directed the accounting officer instead of the ULC chairman to effect the payments.

Extracted from the observer

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Breaking: Witness Radio and Partners to Launch Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy Project Tomorrow.



By Witness Radio Team.

Witness Radio, in collaboration with Dan Church Aid (DCA) and the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD), is set to launch the Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Uganda (MDA-HRU) project tomorrow, 22nd February 2024, at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Hoima District.

The project, funded by the European Union, aims to promote the protection and respect for human rights, and enable access to remedy where violations occur especially in the Mid-Western and Karamoja sub-regions where private sector actors are increasingly involved in land-based investments (LBIs) through improved documentation, and evidence-based advocacy.

The three-year project, which commenced in October 2023, focuses its activities in the Mid-Western sub-region, covering Bulisa, Hoima, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kikuube, Kagadi, Kibale, and Mubende districts, and Karamoja sub-region, covering Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Abim, Kaabong, Kotido, and Karenga districts.

The project targets individuals and groups at high risk of human rights violations, including Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs). It also engages government duty bearers such as policymakers and implementers in relevant ministries and local governments, recognizing their crucial role in securing land and environmental rights. Additionally, the project involves officials from institutional duty bearers including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Equal Opportunities Commission, and courts, among others.

Representatives from the international community, faith leaders, and business actors are also included in the project’s scope, particularly those involved in land-based investments (LBIs) impacting the environment.

The project was initially launched in Moroto for the Karamoja region on the 19th of this month with the leadership of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD).

According to the project implementors,  the action is organized into four activity packages aimed at; enhancing the capacity and skills of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs) in monitoring, documentation, reporting (MDR), and protection, establishing and reinforcing reporting and documentation mechanisms for advocacy and demand for corporate and government accountability;  providing response and support to HRDs and marginalized communities; and lastly facilitating collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagements that link local and national issues to national and international frameworks and spaces.

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Kiryandongo leadership agree to partner with Witness Radio Uganda to end rampant forced land evictions in the district.



By Witness Radio team.

Kiryandongo district leaders have embraced Witness Radio’s collaboration with the Kiryandongo district aimed at ending the rampant violent and illegal land evictions that have significantly harmed the livelihoods of the local communities in the area.

The warm welcome was made at the dialogue organized by Witness Radio Uganda, Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog at the Kiryandongo district headquarters, intended to reflect on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

Speaking at the high-level dialogue, that was participated in by technical officers, policy implementers, religious leaders, leaders of project affected persons (PAPs), politicians, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and development partners that support land and environment rights as well as the Land Based Investments (LBIs) Companies in the Kiryandongo district, the leaders led by the District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Ms. Edith Aliguma Adyeri appreciated the efforts taken by Witness Radio organization to organize the dialogue meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders to safeguard community land and environmental rights in order address the escalating vice of land grabbing in the area.

During the dialogue, participants shared harrowing accounts of the impacts of land evictions and environmental degradation, including tragic deaths, families torn asunder, young girls forced into marriage, a surge in teenage pregnancies, limited access to education, and significant environmental damage which have profoundly affected the lives of the local population in Kiryandongo.

Participants attending the dialogue.

In recent years, Kiryandongo district has been embroiled in violent land evictions orchestrated to accommodate multinational large-scale agriculture plantations and wealthy individuals leaving the poor marginalized.

According to various reports, including findings from Witness Radio’s 2020 research Land Grabs at a Gun Point, the forceful land acquisitions in Kiryandongo have significantly impacted the livelihoods of local communities. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 individuals have been displaced from their land to make room for land-based investments in the Kiryandongo district. However, leaders in the district also revealed in the dialogue that women and children are affected most.

The Kiryandongo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Akweteireho, emphasized that all offices within the Kiryandongo district are actively involved in addressing the prevalent land conflicts. He also extended a welcome to Witness Radio, acknowledging their collaborative efforts in tackling and resolving land and environmental issues in the district.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the land rights together with environmental rights have been violated in our district, but because we don’t know what our rights are, because we have not directly done what we could to safeguard our rights and now this is the time that Witness Radio has brought us together to safeguard our rights. I want to welcome you in Kiryandongo and be rest assured that we shall give you all the necessary support to help us manage these rampant cases,” Ms. Adyeri said in her remarks during the dialogue meeting.

The team leader at Witness Radio Uganda, Mr. Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala expressed gratitude to the participants for their active involvement in the dialogue and revealed that Witness Radio’s objective is to find a holistic solution to the escalating land disputes in Kiryandongo district serving as an example to other districts.

“We are here to assist Kiryandongo district in attaining peace and stability because it stands as a hotspot for land grabbers in Uganda. Mismanagement of land conflicts in Uganda could potentially lead to a significant internal conflict. Everywhere you turn, voices are lamenting the loss of their land and property. Kiryandongo, abundant with ranches, suffers from a lack of a structured framework, which amplifies these land conflicts. The influx of wealthy investors further complicates the situation,” Mr. Ssebaggala disclosed.

Within the dialogue, Mr. Ssebaggala emphasized the need for the Kiryandongo district council to pass a by-law aimed at curbing land evictions as an initial step in addressing the prevalent land injustices.

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Kiryandongo authorities decry rising cases of land disputes



The LC5 chairperson of Kiryandongo, Ms Edith Aliguma Adyeri, has saidnland dispute has impacted on people’s lives, dignity and children’s education in the district.

Just like other parts of Uganda, conflicts over land in Kiryandongo arise when individuals – who often are blood relatives – compete for use of the same parcel of land or when members of the community lay claim over ownership of unutilised government land.

Ms Adyeri further said land and environmental rights affect people both directly and indirectly, “and we are not hearing it from afar. It is already together with us [here], it has already affected us!”

She was speaking at a meeting which sought to discuss alternative remedies to salvage the appalling land and environmental rights situation in Kiryandongo at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The one-day dialogue was aimed at reflecting on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

It was attended by private companies, members of civil society and local government officials and organised by Witness Radio – an advocate for land and environmental rights in Uganda – in partnership with Oxfam, and Kiryandongo District leadership.

“Some people have even died, families are broken up, and brothers are not seeing eye-to-eye because of land rights. Access to justice is equally becoming very difficult because when you hire one lawyer that
lawyer will talk to learned friends, and they agree. They leave you in suspense,” Ms Adyeri said.

According to her, some children have not accessed education because of land and environmental rights.

Mr Jonathan Akweteireho, the deputy Resident District Commissioner of Kiryandongo, said enlightened people especially should be sensitive to the historical injustice of this area.

“We can never handle the Bonyoro land question without thinking about that history. It will be an injustice to the incomers, to the government and to the leaders who don’t understand,” he said.

“We had 38 ranches here which on the guidance of these international organisations, especially the World Bank, the government restructured them, allowing people to settle there, they were never given titles and up to today, there are big problems in all those ranches,” he added.

Mr Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the executive director of Witness Radio, said that a well-functional land sector supports land users or holders and investors, reduces inefficiencies and provides mechanisms to resolve land disputes.

Mr David Kyategeka, the secretary to the Kiryandongo District Land Board, said the issue of land rights is very clear but the major challenge has been sensitising the locals to know what rights he or she expects to enjoy out of this very important resource.


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