UGANDA, Namugoona | Real Muloodi News | Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has intervened in the case of Gertrude Nalule, a widow and mother of five children and two other dependents, rescuing her from two-month imprisonment due to a USh2.88 million debt, and saving her home and land.
On Monday, November 21, 2022, Nalule was freed from prison following the Prime Minister’s intervention.
According to Prime Minister Nabbanja, she decided to visit Nalule in Luzira prison after seeing her story on a local TV station.
When Nabbanja paid a visit to the jail, she discovered that Nalule’s seven children had been left home alone with the 17-year-old oldest child, who also failed to appear for her final exams as a Senior Four candidate. Nabbanja claims that one of her children who was a P.7 candidate similarly missed her finals too.
How Nalule Ended up in Prison
Nalule, a recent widow, supported her family in a two-room house built by villagers following her husband’s death by selling goods at a kiosk in her tiny compound in Namungoona, a suburb of Kampala.
She claims that in 2020, Godfrey Bazaale, her neighbour, lent her USh3 million so she could expand her business. However, the same business was affected when COVID-19 struck and a lockdown was implemented.
Even after receiving an additional USh2 million in 2021, she still experienced losses in her business.
Nalule claims that Bazaale began requesting his money at the beginning of 2022.
Nalule was prepared to repay the money, but was unable to since her business had failed.
She recounts how Bazaale soon filed a lawsuit against her for breach of contract.
Nalule reported a loan transaction, but Bazaale informed the court that they had agreed to sell Nalule’s land to him for USh10 million.
Court documents state that Bazaale claimed to have handed Nalule USh7 million in instalments of USh5 and USh2 million before she later declined to accept the remaining USh3 million.
After winning the lawsuit, Nalule paid Bazaale USh2.88 million in expenses and related damages.
During the court proceedings, according to Nalule, Bazaale also tried to evict her children from their house and destroyed her kiosk.
The Prime Minister’s Intervention in Nalule’s Court Case
To examine Nalule’s case, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja recently met with the Resident City Commissioner, the cabinet minister for Kampala, Magistrate Grade One Amon Mugezi, who presided over the case at Mwanga II Court held in Mengo, and other court officials.
Nabbanja, however, believed that paying off Nalule’s debt would not only liberate her from prison but also save her land and house when she met with court authorities on Monday 21st November 2022.
However, the presiding magistrate warned her that doing so would not be simple because paying the bill had nothing to do with reclaiming the title of the disputed land; rather, it was for damages.
The magistrate informed the gathering that according to the evidence in front of the court, Nalule had sold her land to Bazaale and that more steps would need to be done to reclaim it from him.
Nabbanja stepped in and claimed that since the disputed land belonged to Nalule’s children, she was not permitted to sell it.
Since Nalule had failed to show up in court when she was called to defend herself, the magistrate said that the court lacked alternative facts and the evidence was in support of the moneylender.
He said that the court even went to contested land and unsuccessfully requested Nalule’s appearance.
Nabbanja intervened, perplexed as to why the court would travel to the disputed area yet was unable to ascertain basic information such as the land ownership. She explained to the group that courts should offer justice rather than cause the poor to become frustrated.
Nabbanja urged reporters to leave the room as the discussion entered a heated phase so that it could continue without cameras. Nabbanja informed the reporters that the meeting, which lasted for around 20 minutes, had decided that the matter should be examined to guarantee that justice has been served.
The discussions, according to Nabbanja, also revealed that Nalule had been a victim of conspicuous lending, in which the lender gives a modest loan and characterises the arrangement as a sale.
Nalule had been in danger of losing her house to the moneylender who claimed to have acquired it in one of those odd loan agreements that required the borrower to sign a contract promising to have sold the property to the lender for an amount deceptively larger than the one borrowed.
This method is increasingly commonplace since a debtor is required to sign a sale agreement as collateral, and once the payback period has passed, the creditor seizes the property and claims to have purchased it.
The practice has drawn criticism from regulatory authorities and is typically used by moneylenders.
The Lubaga Division Deputy Resident City Commissioner Anderson Buroora accompanied Nalule as he was transported back to his residence in a vehicle from the Prime Minister’s office. She was greeted by her neighbour in Namungoona zone two amid a celebration.
Christine Nakkonde, the Secretary for Women Affairs Naabakyala Namungoona zone two, visited Nalule’s house after her return.
Nakkonde, who played a significant role in pursuing Nalule’s case and making it public, accused Bazaale of behaving dishonestly to obtain the land.
She claims that Bazaale collaborated with the chairman of a distant local council to buy the land without taking into account the actual circumstances, such as the fact that Nalule was not the legal owner of the property and lacked any letters of administration and that it is, in fact, Nalule’s children who own the property.
Nabbanja has pledged to assist Nalule’s older child by paying for her academic expenses and has begun remodelling Nalule’s home.
Other Similar Cases
Nabbanja is also working on the files of other women who were imprisoned in situations involving failure to pay debts while Nalule is away. She promised to settle the bills owed by Mariam Ssempijja, Monica Tusingwiire, and Nakazibwe Lule from Makindye. She also promised to reimburse Samalie Namakula from Mengo.
According to Nabbanja, 647 women are incarcerated due to debt default. To assist those ladies so they may go home and the jails are less crowded, she said they will cooperate with the office of the Attorney General.
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