• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

High Court Stops Stanbic Bank From Selling Elderly Woman’s Home in Fraudulent Mortgage Deal

UGANDA, Kampala Real Muloodi NewsThe Commercial Division of the Kampala High Court has barred Stanbic Bank and its representatives from evicting an elderly woman, Agaba Halima, whose land title on Kibuga Block 18 plot 697; Nateete was unlawfully mortgaged to the bank without her knowledge or approval.

The Commercial Court Registrar, Ms Flavia K. Nabakooza, granted an interim injunction after evaluating the bank’s eviction of the elderly woman via bailiffs sent by attorneys working on the bank’s behalf.

“An interim order doth issue, restraining the Respondent, and its agents, servants, or any person acting on its behalf from (a) selling the suit land known as Kibuga block 18 plot 697 Nateete, and (b) evicting the applicant or interfering with her possession, use and quiet enjoyment of the suit land, until MA NO. 47 OF 2022 is heard inter parties on January 24, 2022, at 2:40 pm,” the court directed.

The injunction was later extended until February 20, 2022.

Court documents identified brokers from ‘Libra Court Bailiffs and Auctioneers’ as conniving with bank officials and attorneys to sell the property. According to a WhatsApp conversation on court record, they were plotting to sell the land for USh1.6 billion and split the commission between them.

Ms Halima Agaba has subsequently invoked the assistance of President Museveni and Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja to save her from the fraud she claims has the bank orchestrated.

The WhatsApp chat on court record discussing the scheme. Image source: Red Pepper

Where it all Started

Ms Halima Agaba, a resident of Nateete in Lubaga Division, sued Stanbic Bank Uganda and her adopted son Francis Agaba, requesting the court to rule that the contested mortgage of her land on Kibuga block 18 plot 697 Nateete is unlawful and fraudulent. She also provided concrete evidence in her defence.

According to the documentation shown in court, Halima is the registered owner of the land in question, where she lives with her family.

Halima testified in court that she assisted in raising Francis Agaba after his birth parents passed away when he was a child. Agaba lived with Halima like a son until he was old enough to live independently.

Halima left her certificate of title with Agaba in 2018 after trusting him to transfer it to her name and keep it secure. Agaba encouraged Halima in November 2019 to sign some documents proving she had left the title in his control.

Later, court documents reveal that Agaba arrived at Halima’s residence in Nateete with some papers printed in English for her to sign, claiming that he was doing so to formalise the safekeeping of the title.

Documents further demonstrate that Agaba purposefully did not translate the paper above in Rukiga for Halima to understand before signing, despite knowing Halima is illiterate in English.

“Having trusted Agaba as a son, Halima signed the said document in Agaba’s presence believing that it was to formalise safe custody of her title. After signing, Agaba took all copies leaving none to Halima on the pretext that he needed to register them first,” the court documents further state.

Soon afterwards, in February 2020, Agaba notified Halima that he had acquired a USh900 million loan from a bank and had put her title as collateral. Halima’s signature appeared on a mortgage agreement.

Because Halima did not authorise Agaba to deposit or mortgage the title, she became enraged and demanded Agaba to return her title instantly as it was family land. Agaba notified Halima that he had spent the money on supplies for government schools in Northern Uganda and that the schools were about to reimburse him.

“Agaba firmly assured Halima that sooner than later, he would have paid off the loan, redeemed and returned Halima’s title to her. Since then till now, Agaba has not returned Halima’s suit title to her claiming the bank is yet to release the title,” the court documents state.

Halima asserted that she had never deposited her title with the bank for any reason, nor had she ever gone to the bank requesting or negotiating the alleged loan or mortgage—demanding that Stanbic Bank Uganda return her title and settle their arrear with Agaba because the land transaction was unlawful and invalid.

“No other person except Agaba was present when Halima was signing the alleged mortgage deed and the affixed stamp of the alleged witness is a falsified attestation,” documents further say.

Stanbic Bank Uganda employees Kenneth Kawalya, Nassanga Margaret, Joshua Kitamirike, Edgar Isagara, and the recovery crew are all suspected of being involved in the fraudulent land deal.

According to Halima, the documents given to her for signing were not translated, violating Subsections 3 and 4 of the Illiterates Protection Act. The full name and address of the individual who wrote the deed were not provided.

According to Section 147 of the RTA, Halima’s signature was not a witness who attached their stamp. In violation of RTA Section 148, the claimed witness’ signature is scribbled.

Halima further claims that the disputed mortgage is tainted with fraud. Agaba lied about the mortgage deed as a document to establish secure possession of her title, yet he knew she was uneducated.

She further claims that Agaba purposefully neglected to disclose the true nature and purpose of the mortgage deed to her and collaborated with bank employees to cheat her of her land.

Halima has also chastised Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited for neglecting to secure her permission as the registered landowner before completing the mortgage.

“Falsified attestation and scribbled signatures contrary to ss. 147 & 148 of RTA….and intentionally omitting a certificate of translation and the true and full name of the person who wrote the mortgage deed contrary to ss. 3 & 4 of Illiterates Protection Act yet the defendants knew or ought to have known that Halima is illiterate”, the document says—noting that Agaba plotted with the bank to issue a fictitious mortgage over the land.

Halima claims she has experienced severe difficulty, inconvenience, worry, and mental agony because of Stanbic Bank Uganda and Agaba’s fraudulent behaviour. She considers them jointly and severally accountable for the damages.

“The cause of action arose in Kampala within the jurisdiction of this court and the value of the subject matter exceeds UGX 400,000,000,” the documents stated. 

Halima asked the court to deem the land mortgage unlawful, null and invalid, and without legal validity in the same document.

She also wants the court to impose an injunction putting the mortgage on hold.

Halima also requests the court to order Stanbic Bank Uganda to give back her certificate of title and issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the bank, its representatives or workers from accessing, isolating, handling transactions with, or meddling with the land ownership, use, and or peaceful ownership and enjoyment of the land.

Other damages to be paid for at the court rate with interest from the date of judgment include general and exemplary damages until full payment, costs of the litigation and any other compensation the court deems appropriate.


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