Uganda, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | A prominent city law firm has come under fire for allegations of forgery and fraud, costing the government 2.039 Billion Shillings in land compensation to a ‘ghost’ claimant.
The money that was used to pay the claimant, Natalia Namuli, is part of the controversial USh10.6 billion supplementary budget that the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development requested for the Financial Year 2020/2021, to pay land claimants in the sub-regions of Buganda and Bunyoro.
On Thursday, 23rd June 2022, members of Parliament on the Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) pinned the law firm for the alleged defrauding of the government as part of their investigations into the questionable circumstances surrounding the allocation of the supplementary budget.
Counsel Kyle Lubega and Richard Buzibira, through their law firm Lubega and Buzibira and Co. advocates, are said to have represented 79-year-old Natalia Namuli, a resident of Kagadi District, in the claim for the land compensation from the Uganda Land Commission (ULC).
After the claim was made and compensation approved, the money was paid to the law firm, which was to pay Natalia Namuli, the claimant.
In their submissions to the committee, the lawyers representing the claimant affirmed that Namuli approached them for their legal services to process her payment from Uganda Land Commission.
The lawyers were in possession of documents such as letters of administration and certificates of title, which gave Namuli the legal authority to be the administrator of the estate of the late Atwana Kalette and hence the lawful claimant in the compensation claim.
Unfortunately, the police disclosed that the letters of administration were fraudulently processed and acquired.
The claimant Namuli is neither the land administrator nor a beneficiary of the compensation, and she was allegedly forced to sign the documents whose literal and legal implications she did not understand.
Bani Twesigye, a Detective Assistant Inspector of Police attached to COSASE, disclosed his findings during the Thursday meeting.
He was sent by the committee to find out the whereabouts of the claimant, Namuli. He was also tasked to verify her legitimacy as the administrator of the estate of the late Atwana Kalette.
“I met Namuli and interviewed her but she categorically denied being an administrator of the estate of the late Kalette. She further confirmed that she is not related to the family of the late Kalette, and also declined knowledge about it,” Twesigye reported.
Twesigye also revealed that when he asked Namuli if she has ever signed letters of administration, she denied it and also denied ever receiving any compensation from Uganda Land Commission.
Namuli only recalled ever being transported to Kampala by her son-in-law, Peter Amara, who is also the former Kibaale LC V, 2020, to sign several documents without explanation.
“Natalia Namuli stated that she has never got any money from Uganda Land Commission, neither does she know that her som-in-law Peter Amara received any money on her behalf. Apparently, it is Amara who approached ULC purporting to help in compensation of his mother in law,” said Twesigye, according to his findings.
Namuli did not also know about Lubega and Buzibira Co. Advocates. All she remembers is that she was taken to a certain storied house in Kampala, where she was made to sign documents until late.
The police detective, Twesigye, revealed that the letters of administration were forged to legitimise the payment.
The evidence of the fraud is also seen in the fact that they were signed by Justice Ralph Ochan in 2015, and yet the same judge resigned in 2013 to become the chairperson of the Public Service Commission.
Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, the chairperson of COSASE, said that his interaction with Ochan indeed confirmed that the letters of administration were forged.
Counsel Lubega, a signatory to the law firm’s bank account, confirmed that indeed ULC had paid the monies for compensation.
He however failed to show any evidence that Namuli had been given the money. He instead claimed that it was his partner, counsel Buzibira who was in touch with the client.
“When the money entered the account, my colleague who has been handling the file asked me to sign the cheque to pay the client. I signed and he went ahead and withdrew the money and I believe he paid the client,” counsel Lubega defended himself.
Hon. Ssenyonyi found his response unconvincing and he handed him over to CID detectives for further interrogation.
The chairperson, Hon. Ssenyonyi also ordered that counsel Buzibira, who has twice not responded to the committee summons, appear to police before a warrant of arrest is issued against him.
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