Traders withdraw case from civil court to land division

By Sania Babirye
Traders on the three building owned by businessmen Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu have withdrawn their case from the high court civil division and filed it before the the High court Land division following the mysterious way in which the case file was allocated to a new judge without their knowledge.

Through their lawyer Erias Lukwago, the traders contend that their case file was first case listed before Justice Musa Ssekana and was set for hearing on the 8th of this month but when it came for hearing, they were surprised to see that tge original judge was dropped and replaced by justice Andrew Bashaijja without their knowledge.

Lukwago further says that following the way the case file mysteriously changed from one judge to another they wanted to inquire why but later gave up and accepted to go with justice Bashaijja since he is also a judicial officer.

He however says that along the way, the tradeds have received many injustices under justice Bashaijja forcing them to withdraw the case and transfer it to the land division of the high court.

The case has now been allocated to Land division high court Rugadya Nkonge who has set the 16th of this month to hear the case.

However, justice Bashaijja has for the second time ordered that the frustrated traders pay costs to the two businessmen because they have incurred costs along the way through hiring lawyers to represent them in the high court.

On the 10th of April the same judge (Basaijja) ordered the Traders to pay costs to the businessmen after dismissing their application with costs in which they wanted court to allow another file before the ongoing land division to be added to this current file before the high court civil division.

The three buildings include Qualicel, Nabukeera and Jamboree all located at downtown Kampala.

Justice Bashaijja dismissed Lukwago’s application in which he wanted to appeal a ruling that had denied him a chance to amend his pleadings before the court.

The case had came up for hearing and during his submissions, Lukwago had asked court to allow him to add an application that is before the Land division to be part of that in the civil division of the Highcourt.

However Justice Bashaijja instead declined Lukwago’s submissions and ordered that the application be heard as it is.

The 291 traders through their lawyer Erias Lukwago had petitioned the court to allow them to deposit their rent arias on an independent account until court determined who owned and managed the said buildings.

The Traders want to deposit rent monies with a safe account in court until court decides on who of the three warring parties including Drake Lubega , Mansur Matovu and the management of Horizon Coaches formerly belonging to the late businessman Charles Muhangi owns and manages the said buildings .

The buildings are currently being claimed by city businessmen Drake Lubega, Mansur Matovu alias Young and the late rally driver Charles Muhangi through his Horizone coaches ltd.

On the 2nd of April 291 the traders filled their suit escorted by Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago asking court to summon the warring factions to appear before court and clarify on who is the real owner and manager of the contentious buildings.

Currently, both Lubega and Mansur are claiming ownership of the building following the sudden and abrupt death of Muhangi in February this year to whom the traders were paying their rent arrears too.

These have since informed the traders that the buildings belongs to them not the late Muhangi whom the supreme court had declared owner of the buildings.

And worse still the now new owners and managers are forcing the traders to not only pay their current arrears to them, but also agaib pay the already five months arears that they had paid to Muhangi when he was still alive.

These have also gone ahead and closed the shops of those traders who are not willing to clear to them the already rent arrears that they had paid to the late Muhangi which has seen traders protesting.

However, the traders insist that they do not know who is the real owner and manger of the buildings to whom they should pay rent too since the court had declared that Muhangi owned the said buildings and he was doing so until his sudden death.

The traders also insist that if court clarifies on the rightful owner, that they are willing to pay the rent arias to him starting with the new months (February) but not even the past five months that they had paid to Muhangi through Horizon Coaches ltd as being demanded by the alleged new owners.

According to the traders, the supreme court placed the management of the three buildings under Horizon Coaches ltd on the 5th of November 2018.

These further claim that after the supreme court order, the buildings were renovated and renamed Horizon city and Bazanya Nengo respectively and each tenant was ordered to pay a 1.2 million shillings as registration fee which they cleared .

Thay further state that the tenantshave since then been paying rent fees ranging from 400, 000 to 3 million shillings to Horizon Coaches until some time in February this year when both Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu showed up each claiming ownership and management of the 3 buildings.

The traders say that apart from the two claiming owners hiring stick wielding men and security to beat them, these have also turned off electricity and other utilities and locking their shops and threatened to evict any trader who will continue with paying their rent arrears to Horizon Coaches.

These are now asking court to issue an injunction stopping the 2 businessmen from further trespassing and interfering with their business premises until issues of management are clarified and settled by court .

They also want court to order Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu to pay them General damages for loss of business and inconvenience after the two closed their shops yet they had cleared their due rent arrears.

On the 21st of March this year the traders closed their shops and protested after their power was switched off by allegedly Young after they refused to pay the double rent.

These were also demanding an independent account on which they should pay their rent because they were tired of paying rent to one person abd then after someone else comes and claims to be the real owner of the building.

It took Kampala central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko intervention to have the power turned on and promised to take the traders grievances to Parliament fir redress.

In November 2018, President Museveni met the three people fighting for the buildings in a move to solve the problem after ownership wrangles broke out after Muhangi evictees Drake Lubega and his agent Young from the buildings on plot 43 to 47 in Nakivubo road using a letter from the solicitor Generals which letter was then recalled by the solicitor general.

Drake Lubega and the late Charles Muhangi had for long been fighting over the ownership of the buildings and the supreme court declared Muhangi the owner after Lubega had withdrew his appeal.

The calmness did not take long because when Muhangi died in February this year, Lubega came back and claimed to be the owner and ordered the traders to clear a rebt areas including the rent for the past five months that they had paid to Muhangi before he passed away.

However, the traders are contesting the double payment and are also confused on who is the real owner or manager of the said buildings to whom rent arrears should be paid to.

According to Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, the traders on the three arcades including Jamboree, Qualicell and Nabukera are legal tenants who are being constrained by Drake Lubega and Young.

He says that these in November 2018 both the supreme court and constitutional court gave Muhangi ownership of the arcades and the traders being law abiding citizens followed the court order before Drake once again came back and caused the commotion.

He says that the traders have sufferers massive loses due to drake Lubega’s actions and should be compensated as a result.

Meanwhile, government has since issued an order to Lubega to not close the buildings and allow court to do its work.

These have also been told to not pay any rent until court has clarified who is the rightful manager of the said buildings.

However, Drake Lubega insists that if anyone does not want to pay him hia rent then they should leave his building.