• Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

UGANDA, Buliisa | Real Muloodi News | The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has declared that retired Maj Gen Wilberforce Fred Mugisha and two others acquired land illegally, and therefore has cancelled their land title. The contested land is located at in in Wanembo-Boma village in Butiaba Town Council, Buliisa District.

The acting commissioner of land registration, Mr Baker Mugaino, says the decision was made after public hearings and careful scrutiny of the available records and documents.

“Pursuant to the provisions of Section 91(9) of the Land Act (Cap.227), this is to inform you that upon conducting a hearing into the said matter on the November 22, and upon perusal of the supporting documents and the records in this office, I have decided to cancel the certificate of title comprising in Freehold Register Volume MAS49 Folio 4, Bujenje Block 1 Plot 25 in the names of Mugisa Wilberforce Fred, Mugabi Stephen and Kiiza George having been illegally or wrongfully obtained,” he said.

The locals in Butiaba and other parts of Buliisa have been entangled in land disputes with Maj Gen Mugisha for a number of years.

Trouble reportedly began in 2003 when President Museveni called upon residents to avail land for the construction of a military barracks.

However, after availing the land, men in uniform and others irregularly allocated the remaining plots between themselves. Later, it was discovered that the oil pipeline and other infrastructural projects would pass through the contested land, increasing it’s value substantially.

The locals allege the trio grabbed their communal land and changed the status to freehold, and eventually obtained a land title for the land for themselves.

The community therefore made a submission to the Justice Centre Uganda claiming that the act amounted to fraud, and requesting cancellation of the freehold title.

“We wish to bring to your attention that the said persons’ acts are fraudulent in nature and intended to deprive the rightful community members of Wanteembo-Booma villages of their communal interests in the said land,” the submission reads in part.

In his letter, Mr Mugaino instructed the trio to return the duplicate copies of the land title to the Lands ministry for onward cancellation, without fail.

“… If you are aggrieved by the decision of this office on the matter, you have a right to appeal to the Courts of Law within 60 days from the date hereof in accordance with the provisions of Section 91(10) of the Land Act,” he said.

Mr Denis Obbo, the lands ministry spokesperson, yesterday confirmed the cancellation.

“We checked all the records and also conducted public hearings with both parties in attendance in Butiaba and it was after that the titles were cancelled,” he said.

Mr Obbo further said that the ministry does not condone land grabbing, as indicated by the cancellation of the title.

Mugisha to Appeal the Decision

Mugisha and the company through Abayiza, Kavuma, Mugerwa & Advocates, argued that they were the bonafide owners of the land.

Since the cancellation, the lawyer representing Maj Gen Mugisha and the others, Mr Brian Kabayiza, says that he has instructions to file an appeal at the courts. “So I am working on an appeal, which I will file within the 60 days as given by the law,” he said without giving further details.

They argue the issue of fraud is not under the jurisdiction of the registrar of titles, and therefore the registrar cannot cancel their title based on the allegations of fraud.

“The same complaint is ought to be determined on framed issues of fraud, a matter or an issue that is not within the powers or Jurisdiction of Registrar of titles to adjudicate upon, under the applicable laws in Uganda. We pray that this complaint be disallowed on this basis,” the lawyers argue.

What the Locals Say

Mr Moses Asaaba, the chairperson of Butiaba Town Council says “I welcome the ruling and I am happy that finally a decision has been taken and we can now think of development. However, we still have some close to 60 days before we can start anything on the land. Secondly the fact that the title has been cancelled does not mean that the land does not belong to them.”

Aden Kasangaki, Secretary General of Booma Farmers Communal Land Association says “The boundary between UPDF barracks and Community should be opened to put to an end continuous harassment of civilians by military men. We request the President, Minister of Defence and CDF to compensate us sufficiently for the barracks land taken by UPDF since each family head was given only USh550, 000.”

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