UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The decision of the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Judith Nabakooba, to interdict the Secretary of the Uganda Land Commission (ULC), Barbara Imaryo, has been overturned by the High Court in Kampala.
Following the instruction of the Inspector General of Government (IGG) Beti Kamya given on December 1st, 2021, Imaryo was interdicted by Nabakooba to open the way for investigations into claims of misappropriation of monies under the Land Fund.
Following a report by the Auditor General, the Uganda Land Commission Secretary was interdicted, along with other Commission officials, including Chairperson Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki.
The investigation revealed, among other things, that ULC lacked a land inventory and database for all public lands and properties that were under its purview and that, among other anomalies, certain claimants received payments totalling USh10.6 billion without the Commission’s approval.
“You are therefore, directed/ordered, as the Supervising Minister, to interdict or cause the Interdiction of Ms Barbara Imaryo from her duties as Secretary of Uganda Land Commission with immediate effect,” read the letter that Nabakooba acted on to make her December 7th 2021 decision.
As a result, Nabakooba gave her the order to stay away from work and reinstalled Daniel Mugulusi as the Accounting Officer of the Uganda Land Commission, giving her the instruction that matters should continue that way unless the President of Uganda gives her alternative instructions.
Imaryo, who disagreed with the Minister’s decision, filed a petition with the Civil Division of the High Court to overturn it because Nabakooba lacked the authority to eject her from her position and prevent her from conducting any official business on behalf of the Uganda Land Commission.
Imaryo asserts that the President, who is the appointing authority, is the only one who can chastise a person of her status.
In response, the Attorney General requested that the matter be dismissed, citing an affidavit from Vincent Byendaimira, the Physical Planning Commissioner in the Lands Ministry, who claimed that the Minister had not behaved illegally as claimed by Imaryo.
The interdiction, according to the administration, is a procedural safeguard intended to ensure Imaryo does not carry out her responsibilities so that investigations may be carried out without the risk of her interfering with them until they are finished.
But in a ruling handed down on Monday, High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana sided with Imaryo and declared her interdiction to be unlawful. Ssekaana asserted that neither the IGG nor the Minister of Land had the authority to obstruct and terminate Imaryo’s employment with the Commission.
“In the present case, the applicant is challenging the decision of the Minister of Lands Housing and Urban Development to interdict her because she is not vested with such power. Her actions were indeed illegal and contrary to the constitutional and other laws governing the appointment of the applicant,” says Ssekaana.
According to Ssekaana, who cited Section 24 of the Interpretation Act, the authority granted to the person who makes the appointment is the same person who has the right to revoke, suspend, reappoint, and reinstate any individual appointed in accordance with those powers.
“It is very true that the office of the Inspector General of Government has power to make recommendations to decision makers or responsible officers, such recommendations are not self-executing and must be acted upon in accordance with the existing legal frame work. The IGG cannot direct a Minister to break the law, and act appropriately. The letter from the Inspector General of Government only gave the Minster of Lands, Housing and Urban Development of what action to take,” added Ssekaana.
As a result, he has mandated that the Attorney General, designated as the respondent, pay Imaryo’s damage costs.
Justice Ssekaana issued a temporary injunction on December 29, 2021, stopping the interdiction of Imaryo’s boss Byenkya until the outcome of her legal challenge against the interdiction.
Since then, Byenkya has revealed that some untouchable political figures want her removed from power because they allegedly stole public land and are afraid of being discovered.
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