UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) continues to unearth culprits that participated in the UGX 2 billion ‘ghost’ payment to 79-year-old Natalie Namuli.
On Wednesday, July 6th, the Committee probed the parameters that Mr Yasin Swad Bogezi, a senior government valuer, used to zero on the Shs2.039bn value that was hastily paid to the ‘ghost’ claimant.
The Committee also questioned Mr Baker Mugaino, the acting commissioner of land registrations, and Mr Denis Kahabura, the registrar of titles for Kibaale District, who issued the title basing on forged court documents, leading to the USh2 billion loss.
The MPs argue that the three officials did not do due diligence in verifying the requisite documents thus causing the loss of funds to the Government. They also questioned why the land was hurriedly surveyed on July 17 2020, and five days later on July 22, the title was processed.
Mr Bogezi, while appearing before the committee, said that his colleague, Mr Dennis Kidduse, a senior assistant valuer at the Lands Ministry, visited the land with the guidance of the boundary opening report, and did a valuation in October 2019 with the help of the area’s local chairperson and brokers.
However, Mr Bogezi could not explain how he came up with the value of UGX 4.5 million for each hectare. He admitted a comprehensive valuation was not done because of the hostile communities, saying in some cases, they relied on valuation figures from the local leaders.
“I only valued the land, not the buildings because the residents there were angry, you risk being lynched if you’re seen with a tape measure or even a camera. So you go there knowing that you may or may not return,” Mr Bogezi explained.
The parliamentarians on the committee were not convinced by this rudimentary method of valuation, saying the Office of the Government Valuer should have made better efforts to authenticate the figures.
“How do you rely on brokers to value the land? I thought as a valuer you would know better,” said Hon Richard Ssebamala, the Bukoto Central MP.
“I seem not to be convinced with the method of work. Ordinarily, they have a team on the ground. The team from the Kampala office should have gone and authenticated the figures which they have forwarded to you and made an appropriate report because many of these activities you are doing involve a lot of money which belongs to the taxpayer,” said Hon. Gabriel Okumu (NRM, Okoro County).
“I am sure the survey was not done properly because you were fearing for your life, everything was approximate. You just assumed the value and price,” Hon Lucy Akello, the Vice-chairperson of COSASE and Woman MP of Amuru District asserted.
However, Mr Bogezi insisted that proper due diligence was done and that the location, terrain, economic activities of the land and occupancy rate were considered among other factors.
The chairperson of COSASE, Hon Joel Ssenyonyi, instructed Mr Baker Mugaino, the acting commissioner for land registration at the Ministry of Lands and Housing, to start the process of cancelling the said title and to update the committee at every step, considering that the process has some legal implications.
The committee faulted Mr Mugaino for failing on his supervisory role as it emerged that the letters of administration of the the land in question were forged and not verified by the lands officials, as admitted by his subordinate, Mr Denis Kahabura, a senior registrar of titles.
Mr Kahabura admitted that they had processed the title without first verifying the correctness of the letters of administration. He said that as long as the documents submitted to them are certified, they go ahead and process the title.
Mr Kahabura further shocked the committee when he revealed that he had only written to the Masindi court this week to verify the letters of administration of the said land.
“So you mean you just wrote the letter after receiving our summons?” Hon Ssenyonyi asked.
COSASE then handed Mr Kahabura over to the Criminal Investigations Directorate for further questioning over failing to conduct due diligence to verify the authenticity of the letters of administration.
“As Registrar of Titles, you did not do due diligence; someone brings letters of administration which are forged and you cannot see this. In my observation, there was negligence because there was no due diligence done and secondly, potentially, you [Mr Kahabura] were involved in this fraud,” Ssenyonyi said.
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