Connect with us

Livelihood, Land And Investment

Uganda: NGO claims Agilis Partners & Great Seasons violently evicted locals to pave the way for agribusiness; Agilis Partners responds

Published

on

“Uganda: NGO claims Agilis Partners and Great Seasons violently evicting locals to pave way for agribusiness; Agilis Partners denies claims”

Witness Radio claims that Agilis Partners limited and Great Season have resorted to the use of violence to grab land from poor communities. It alleges that Agilis Partners limited and Great Season Company as well as their agents severely beat William Katusiime, violently and arbitrarily arrested  Sipiriano Baluma and Haweka Martin. Katusiime is a member of a community being dispossessed by Agilis Partners while Haweka and Baluma are members of a community being illegally and violently evicted by Great Seasons Company respectively. Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invite Agilis Partners to respond. Agilis Partners said that it entered into voluntary agreements with illegal occupants based a valuation framework and agreements were witnessed by local government leaders The full response is included. We could not get reliable contacts for Great Season and will include their response if we receive it.

Agilis Partners’ response

Author: Agilis Partners

“Response to Business & Human Rights Resource Centre”

In March 2017, Agilis acquired land in Kiryandongo District, Uganda from private individuals pursuant to a purchase agreement in exchange for cash consideration.  Government did not grant or sell the land to Agilis. Between June 2017 and December 2017, Agilis completed extensive community consultation and integrated planning.  On 3 July 2017, Agilis held a preliminary stakeholder meeting with the District Security Committee to determine an approach.  On 6 October 2017, Agilis met with Local Government and held a Level 1 Stakeholders General Meeting.  In this meeting, Agilis and stakeholders discussed potential removal of individuals from the land and Agilis’s general investment plan in the District…

Based on this census and satellite imagery, Agilis’s legal counsel established that none of the individuals occupying the land had title or other legal, customary or bona fide claims to the land. Katende Ssempebwa and Company Advocates advised Agilis in this assessment.  The courts of law of Uganda have concurred with this perspective. Counsel advised that Agilis had the prerogative to seek forced evictions from the land.  Agilis decided against forced evictions due to the humanitarian risks this would pose to the individuals illegally occupying the land.  All individuals who have departed the land have done so pursuant to voluntary agreements in exchange for cash compensation…

Through 2018, Agilis entered into voluntary agreements with illegal occupants based on the above valuation framework. All agreements were witnessed by local government leaders and legal counsel.  Local leaders have remained engaged throughout the consultative and implementation processes.  Multiple individuals have raised grievances which have been addressed according to the grievance redress process.  Agilis has not evicted anyone from the land.  Allegations of violent aggression and forced evictions by Agilis are false.

Agilis Patners and Great Season allegedly violently dispossesing communities of land to pave way for agribusiness

Author: Witness Radio (Uganda)

“Multinationals are using violence as weapon in the COVID-19 lockdown to dispossess communities”

As Uganda begins a 32 day COVID – 19 Lockdown, multinational companies dispossessing more than 35000 natives off their land, have resorted to the use of violence to grab land for poor communities. During the previous weekend, Agilis Partners limited and Great Season Company as well as their agents severely beat William Katusiime, violently and arbitrarily arrested two people namely Sipiriano Baluma and Haweka Martin. Katusiime is a member of a community being dispossessed by Agilis Partners while Haweka and Baluma are members of a community being illegally and violently evicted by Great Seasons Company respectively…

According to Katusiime, he was confronted from his land by Agilis Partners staff and a guard putting on a uniform of Saracen, a private security company hired by Agilis to provide security. They were patrolling the area. He said he was severely beaten for over 20 minutes and sustained body injuries. “ I was being accused of refusing to leave the land and continue cultivating it” Said Katusiime

Katusiime further explained that when he reported the matter to area police (Kimogola police post), police officers at police post blocked him from opening up a case instead referred him to Kiryandongo police station saying, they have orders not to attend to any victims of Agilis Partners. Haweka was arbitrarily arrested at Kimogola police post where he had gone to open up a case of crops’ destruction while Baluma’s cause of arrest is still unknown.

 

Livelihood, Land And Investment

Land grabs: Officials in Mudende district are colluding with economically powerful and politically connected people to grab local communities’ land.

Published

on

By Witness Radio Team

Justine Nakachwa (not her real name) had never thought of losing land she and her family had happily lived on for decades. Her dream of owning farmland had come true.

The land passed down to generations of descendants from the late 1970s was now being claimed by a renowned businessman. She got staggered.

“I was shocked by this news because I have spent most of my life here. Am wondering how he could acquire the land without the knowledge of the whole village.” She painfully revealed this while speaking to a Witness Radio-Uganda reporter.

The sixty-year-old is one of the community members of over 800 smallholder farmers in the three villages; Biwaalwe, Kabaale, and Kyagaranyi in Kanyogoga parish, Butologo sub-county in Mubende district currently facing eviction by Tubikaku Uganda Limited, a company owned by City businessman Desh Kananura.

The smallholder farmers have been practicing subsistence farming on this land to earn a living since the 1970s.

Intending to secure ownership and legalize it, they conducted a search and due diligence, which revealed that the land had no encumbrances.  In 2012, they applied for a lease. Sadly, the Mubende District Land Board declined to grant their request and instead awarded the lease of 906.4 hectares to a ghost company Tubikaku Uganda Limited.

The economically powerful and politically connected to grabbing the downtrodden land with the assistance of land board officials is rapidly growing in Uganda. With the aid of district land boards, cartels are increasingly disposing of smallholder farmers. This practice is now predominant in many districts in the country, especially Mubende district.

It is alleged that the District Land Board has previously leased people’s land to tycoons without following proper legal land acquisition procedures.

Seven years ago, a community’s land in Lwebigajji village in Mubende district of 226.5 hectares were grabbed by a local investor with the help of district land board officials. The community had lived on their land for over 30 years.

When the community showed interest in acquiring a leasehold on the land, the district land board of Mubende hurriedly offered the title to one Deo Semwogerere Mutyaba, a local businessman, who does not even own a decimal on the land.

Consequently, over 2000 families were affected. “In 2014, we requested the Mubende district lands board for a lease on this land, got surveyed using our efforts and resources, however upon returning the leasehold title in 2015, it had Semwogerere’s names as the owner of the land.” Grace Nantubiro, one of the community leaders said.

Samuel Wambi Mamali, a local businessman was also helped by the Mubende district land board officials to allegedly steal local community’s land covering three villages. These include Kyamukoona, Kijojolo, and Kalagala in Mubende District that have been occupied by locals for decades. The villages accommodate over 800 families.

The villagers indicated that Maamali fraudulently acquired a lease title he never applied for, did not consult community members on the land, nor at parish, or sub-county land committees that should have advised and guided on whether the land was lawfully being occupied and cultivated.

The few listed cases above are among several cases of grabbed land by wealthy and politically connected people in the Mubende district.  The trend of district land boards facilitating land grabs has left many local and indigenous communities landless.

Continue Reading

Livelihood, Land And Investment

A community of over 300 smallholder farmers conned as their land is sold to a local investor without their consent.

Published

on

By Witness Radio Team

As foreign agribusinesses take over Kiryandongo communities’ fertile land, other local investors are also eyeing the remaining land occupied by the poor families in the southwestern district of Uganda to grab their land.

A community of over 300 smallholder farmers in Ranch 22, Nyamuntende village in Kiryandongo district is being evicted by a local businessman Maseruka Robert who claims ownership of the land some have lived on for decades. Mr. Maseruka connived with some leaders in the community to grab land from the poor.

The evictions that started in August this year have caused the displacement of over 50 households so far on land measuring over 2000 acres without consultations or being fairly compensated. Crops belonging to residents, and houses were razed.

When evictions by multinationals soared in Uganda, the community acted swiftly to protect the interest on the land and avert a land grab. And in 2015, they applied for a lease of 49 years on the land from the Kiryandongo district land board which was granted to them.

However, unbeknownst to them, schemers would take advantage of this opportunity to grab their land. Earlier, the residents whose land is located on Ranch 22 Block 8 Bunyoro Ranching Scheme entrusted Wilson Sikhama, Ochema Richard, and a few other community members as their leaders in 2016 during the requisition of the land.

According to the residents, initially, the application processes unfolded as they had planned, however, Sikhama and Ochema allegedly connived with other people not known to the community to drop the names of some of the community members whom they had entrusted and replaced them with Julius Isingoma, Gerald Tumusiime, Messanger Gabriel Wabwire, Musokota William John and Simon Mwesige.

Residents further added that the land was titled in the names of the seven people who excluded the villagers. In 2019, when the community expected the location forms of the land per person, they understood that the land they had acquired was sold to one Maseruka Robert without their notification by Sikhama and the group.

In the same year 2019, the community ran to court seeking its intervention to regain the ownership of their land. The community was led by one of their own Mbabazi Samuel. In a blink of an eye, Mbabazi allegedly reached an agreement with the aforementioned group. On the 22nd of October 2020, he allegedly sold the said land to a group of people (Mr. Sikhama’s group) at One Hundred Million Shillings (100,000,000 equivalent to USD 26,483.79) without the approval of the community he represented.

After completion of the sale, the group of schemers sold the land to Maseruka who is now evicting the community.

In our interview with Maseruka, he failed to explain how he acquired the land but, insisted that he wanted the community to leave his land. “These people should leave my land because I want to use it, this is my land.” He maintained.

Some of the evictees whose houses were destroyed had relocated to their neighbors’ homes for fear of what would befall them. A 42-year-old widow and a mother of 10 said Maseruka’s accomplices destroyed her house leaving her destitute.

“These people wanted to give me 700,000/= (185.39) for the 15 acres of my land. When I resisted, they began destroying what they found including my house. They told me the money they were giving me was enough for me to vacate.” She explained.

The chairperson of the affected community, Mushija Caleb said his people are being forcefully evicted because they refused the peanuts given to them as compensation. He reiterated that his people don’t want to leave their land.

“They should not think of compensation irrespective of the amounts they are willing to offer because people are not interested in surrendering their land,” he added.

Continue Reading

Accountable Development To Communities

A self-claimed landlord who caused the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders on false charges was aligned before the court and charged with 28 counts.

Published

on

Naava while entering court cells at  Mubende.

By Witness Radio Team

A magistrate court at Mubende has charged a self-claimed landlord with 28 counts plus murder. Naava Milly Namutebi caused the arrest of six community land rights defenders, falsely accused them of murder, and got imprisoned for three years without trial. 

Naava’s appearance before the court followed shortly after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) dropped murder charges against six community land rights defenders. These include; Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.

Naava was charged along with Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, Henry Kaaya, among others. They were not allowed to answer any charges as the court had no power to make legal decisions and judgments on charges read to them.

The prosecution alleges that Naava and others still at large, committed offenses in areas of Mubende and Kampala districts between 2006 and 2021.

From 2012 to date, Naava got help from the senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses while forcefully evicting over 4,000 people off their land. 

The land being targeted measures 3.5 square miles covering villages including Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.

Naava and others accused were remanded to Kaweeri prison until 19th/July/2022. 

Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework

READ BY CATEGORY

Facebook

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter





No spam mail' ever' its a promise

Trending