President’s office distances itself from minister Amongi’s claims about compensation

By Sania Babirye
The troubled Lands Minister Betty Amongi has been disowned by the office of the president in relation to withdrawing huge sums of tax payers money from the land fund  to compensate alleged claimants.
Minister Amongi had claimed that she was   directed  by the president’s  office while she was being grilled by the land probe commission over illegal compensations.
However while appearing before the same commission chaired by justice Catherine Bamugemeire, the principle private secretary to the president Molly Kamukama rather denied the allegations and explained that when petitions concerning land matters reach her office , she usually writes back and  directs the relevant ministry to manage, investigate the complaint and after investigations then writes a report back to the minister.
Kamukama revealed that instead,  minister Amongi undermined the  directives by directly taking it upon herself to withdraw money from the land fund without reporting back to the office of the president or being cleared by the same office as required.
Last week , Minister Betty Amongi told the land probe commission that  she  received several directives from the president to urgently pay- off beneficiaries of  the Uganda Land fund ; whose land has been taken over by government for either settlement or  economic development .
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has for that matter suggested to Kamukama that the office of the president should not  even wait for the commission’s report and recommendations  but to immediately  deal with such people who steal money from the land fund and deprive off the right beneficiaries.

Lands minister Amongi accused of grabbing land

By Sania Babirye
An Indian Family has dragged the minister of Lands Betty Amongi to the Land probe commission accusing her of using her position as minister to steal their Family property  valued  at 5 billion shillings in Kampala that belonged to their departed parents.
While appearing before the seven member team chaired by justice Catherine Bamugemeire, a one Tashak Partel testified that before the  expulsion of Indian nationals, his grand parents were the registered  proprietors of plot 29 on Acacia avenue which was later entrusted to the Departed Asian custodian board .
Partel explained that in 1995 his family returned back to Uganda  an upon return, his mother Mandakini Manubai Partel re-possessed the said property in which she appointed him as the care taker of the said property.
He says that as a care taker,he rented the property out  to a telecom company -Midcom Ltd but in December 2017, he received a letter from a company called AMOBET investments Ltd asking his Asian family  to vacate the property because it was a government property since it had never been repossessed.
 He adds that in top of that on the 15th of February this year, minister Amongi  using the Ministry’s letter head  wrote to his lawyers of Bitangaro and company advocates summoning  him  to appear at the headquarters of the  Ministry of land Headquarters  to be grilled on allegations that there were forged documents including a land tittle and a certificate of re-possession of the property.
Partel has further revealed that he instructed his lawyer to ascertain the legality and ownership of AMOBET  company  in the registrar of companies and they later discovered that minister Amongi owns 66% of AMOBET company  while a one Cate Odongo owns the remaining 44%.
He has now told the land probe commission that the minister is using her influence to steal their property.
The allegations comes after the minister failed to appear before the commission ladt week to explain the alleged corruption in the land fund in which senior citizens including John Nagenda informed the commission that conmen are being compensated by the land fund instead of the rightful beneficiaries including him for their land given to government.
However Justice Catherine Bamugemeire insisted that the minister will be re-summoned to appear in person to explain the corruption allegations.

UPDF evicts herdsmen off oil refinery land

Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF has taken control of the oil refinery land in Kabaale parish Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district.
It follows a directive by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to the army to take immediate control of the oil.   The Hoima Resident District Commissioner, John Stephen Ekoom, says UPDF has deployed a battalion at Nyahaira primary school to avert further encroachment on the oil refinery land by herdsmen and cultivators.
Last week, security operatives forcefully evicted a group of herdsmen and cultivators from the oil refinery land following the expiry of the ultimatum issued to them to vacate voluntarily in vain.

According to Ekoom, UPDF will conduct routine patrols on the oil refinery land and pick up whoever is found trespassing.

Government acquired the 29 square miles of the oil refinery land in 2012 to pave way for the construction works.
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Tooro Queen mother grilled by land commission

By Sania Babirye
The Tooro Queen mother Best Kemigisha has denied allegations that she grabbed and sold off Royal land.
While appearing before the commission of inquiry into land matters headed by justice Catherine Bamugemeire,her majesty has instead told the commission that the land she is being accused of grabbing including that which comprises of royal burial sites belongs to her and her children.
The Queen mother says that the land is legally hers because it was given to her by her late husband King Patrick Mathew Olimi Kaboyo.
She also confirmed that she transferred the said land including that in Kitumba and  Kalandi Individually in her name to protect the interests of her children among others.
She added that she can not steal royal land since the ministry of lands and the Tooro Kingdom administrators know what property privately belongs to the Kingdom and that which privately  belonged to her late husband since there is still a distinction between private property which belongs to the Kingdom and what belongs to an individual.
She says that for example even  land near her palace belongs to her despite having burial sites of Royals.
The commission chairperson Justice  Catherine Bamugemeire issued the summons to the queen other after she failed to show up before the commission sitting in Kampala on the 19th  of this month.
She had  communicated to the commission in a letter that she was unable to make it because she was attending a royal function.
 Last month Tooro Kingdom Royals accused Queen Mother Best Kemigisa of grabbing and selling land belonging to royals.
In their petition to the land commission, royal family members accused the Queen Mother of grabbing the kingdom land and selling cultural sites such as burial grounds of their forefathers at Kagoma and Burongo in Kibitto and Kisomoro sub-counties respectively.
Evidence before land commission shows that upon the death of her husband, King Patrick Mathew Olimi Kaboyo the third in August 1995, the Queen Mother acquired letters of administration as a sole administrator of the estate in 1999 which formed basis for transfer of the land into her names and subsequent sale of the royal family land.

Tooro Queen mother warned against evicting people from land

President Museveni has warned Best Kemigisa, the Queen Mother of Tooro Kingdom against carrying out illegal land evictions.

Museveni issued the warning while appearing on Voice of Tooro radio station in Fort Portal on Wednesday night as part of his nationwide campaign to explain the proposed Constitutional amendments on land.

The warning stems from complaints from some callers against the Queen mother. Steven Mugurusi, a resident of Kitumba requested the President to reign in on Kemigisa. In his response Museveni directed Kemigisa to stop the evictions, saying they are contrary to the law. “The law is very clear; no one should be evicted from their land. That person (Kemigisa) should stop,” Museveni said.

Kemigisa has in the past come under criticism for evicting families using Uganda Peoples’ Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers attached to the security detail of King Oyo. Some of the families are in Kitumba and Kidukuru villages in Fort Portal. Last year, Kemigisa threatned to evict more than 70 families from a piece of land measuring 25 acres in Kitumba. She said that she wants to use the land to construct a school.

Museveni also said that should the evictions persist, the actions of Kemigisa should be brought to the attention of the local leaders in the district and action taken. “It’s good you have told me who is evicting people from their land. This should stop and the leaders in the district should take note and do something”, Museveni said.

In May, Tooro Elders under their umbrella, Isaazi lyAbaantu Bakuru Ba Tooro petitioned the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Land Commission over Kemigisa’s actions. On the controversial leasing of crater lakes to Ferdsult Engineering Services Limited by Kabarole district local government, Museveni said that the investor should have thoroughly consulted the community surrounding the lakes before restocking the lakes.

“The fishermen have been using the lakes for a long time, they should have been consulted before restocking started. I don’t see any problem with both parties sitting to find an amicable solution”, Museveni said. Kabarole District Local government in 2015 allegedly leased twenty crater lakes to Ferdsult Engineering Services Limited to restock them with Fish.

This prompted Kichwamba Sub County residents to challenge the matter in court. In June Fort Portal High Court Resident Judge, Justice Anthony Ojok Ayuko cancelled the deal citing irregularities. Ferdsult and Kabarole district local government have since appealed the judgment.

 

 

 

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Security beefed up in Amuru land surveying commences

By Robert Segawa
Security has been tightened in Kololo, Amuru district as government starts surveying land set aside for business man Madhvani to grow sugarcanes.
Last week, a group of locals mostly women stripped naked before the Lands minister Betty Amongi who had gone to oversee the exercise.
According to the police spokesperson for Aswa region, Jimmy Akema, they had to deploy heavily in a bid to secure those locals who gave out land for willingly .
 The surveying process was halted by locals who were protesting against  their land being given away.
However, according to Okema both the locals who gave away land willingly and the surveyors will be assured of security when the exercise begins.

Baguma Isoke says Movit proprietor’s land documents were stolen

By Sania Babirye

The chairman of the Uganda Land Commission Baguma Isoke has told the Land probe that a file containing application,  valuation and inspection forms plus the lease offer agreements to Movit proprietor Simpson Birungi in regards to plot 60-62 Aldina road in Jinja town was stolen  from the commission’s registry.

Isoke has been  testifying before the commission  on how the said  land which had been leased out to Jinja Municipal council  fraudulently ended up in the hands of Birungi .

Isoke has said  that no information can be traced from the  commission’s records because the file  vanished from the registry 2 years before he assumed office on the 2nd/February 2014.

However when asked by the commission to explain the circumstances under which this theft could have happened ,  Isoke said he did not know because access to the registry is only by permitted staff who even record movement of any documents.

The commission has however  given Isoke a 2 weeks ultimatum to report back with a solution on how the said land can get back in the hands of government.

The chairman  will also be required to explain to the commission  how military land in Kapeka and National Fisheries Research Institute land in Wailaka  was leased out to individuals.

Ministry of lands official arrested for issuing land titles in wetlands

By Sania Babirye

The land commission of inquiry chair Justice Catherine Bamugemeire has ordered for the immediate arrest of the senior registrar  of  titles in the ministry of lands and urban development Lwera Atalo Bwogere for issuing titles in wetlands.

Atalo who was appearing before the seven member commission was arrested and taken to Wandegeya police station after justice Catherine Bamugemeire accused her of giving contradicting evidence regarding issuing of  land  titles in wetlands especially in Wakiso district.

On Thursday, the commission discovered that land titles were issued in Kijabijo wetland under her order however Atolo angered justice Catharine Bamugemeire when she alleged that she was not aware that the land was a wetland while she was issuing the said land titles.

37 year old Atalo  has been working in the ministry for the past 12 years and before she became a senior  registrar of titles  she was stationed at Wakiso district.

The said titles are said to have been issued between 20th  January 2016 to 8th February  same year.

Man accuses city tycoon Ntaganda of stealing forest

By Sania Babirye

City tycoon Ephraim Ntanganda has been accused by a 79 year old man of stealing his  forest  amounting to five hectares found in Wakiso district.

Dezidelio Kasujja revealed this while appearing before the land  commission of inquiry being chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemeire.

He has told  the commission that Ntanganda connived with the NFA Executive director to clear his forest containing 150 bee hives and 12 acres of  Eucalyptus trees in march 2016.

Kasujja has further told the commission that  on that fateful day Ntaganda who was escorted by police men dressed in uniform brought in tractors to clear the forest found in Kajjansi in his presence.

After the incident Ntanganda  is alleged to have sold off the trees and the bee hives and bared him from trespassing on the former forest.

Kasujja has now asked the land prob to visit the locus for  more clarity.

In March 1997 Kasujja is said to have acquired the virgin forest for  re development from the National Forestry Authority .

Ntanganda is expected to take a stand this afternoon to defend himself on the said allegations.

Civil societies demand that Gov’t sets a commission of inquiry into Apaa issues

By Wasswa Deo

A consortium of civil society organizations in Uganda has condemned the ongoing land conflicts in Amuru.

The group led by the country acting director Action Aid Uganda Christine Aboke says government must come up with a lasting solution to end cases of land conflicts in the country.

According to the joint statement they have released, they are demanding a commission of Inquiry into the land matters headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire be allowed to pursue the Apaa case  immediately and come up with concrete recommendations to address the matter.

Among other demands, the group demands that government urgently revisits its commitment to gazette the East Madi game reserve which has been a source of dispute and violent conflict over the year.

The land disputes in Apaa Parish started after part of Pabbo Sub County, in Amuru district was forcefully demarcated as part of Adjumani amidst protests from Amuru residents. The area under contention covers 20 square kilometers of land located in a contested wildlife reserve gazetted in 2002.

The consortium members say  it’s unfortunate that the conflicts are affecting more women and children who are considered to be the most vulnerable group.

The land conflicts in Apaa has resulted into 8 people losing their lives and injured more than 20 others.

However, a team of cultural leaders and government officials led by the Acholi paramount chief of Ker Kal Acholi on Thursday visited people who have been displaced at the Apaa Trading Center.

The victims have also accepted food relief that they had rejected initially.

The acceptance came after a visit by the State Minister for Primary Health Care (PHC) Joyce Kaducu who practically cooked and ate the food to confirm that it was free of poison .

According to Amuru district Chairperson Michael Lakony, the distribution will begin today, Friday, with the most vulnerable people including the elderly, injured, children and those suffering from severe hunger.

He says up to 7,000 people have been registered for food relief.