• Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

State House Anti-Corruption Unit Arrests Mbale City Officials and Land Committee Members

UGANDA, Mbale | Real Muloodi News | The Statehouse Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) arrested seven top Mbale City officials and local land committee members for allegedly conspiring to sell over ten hectares of government land at Nakaloke T/C in Mbale City Northern Division.

On September 14, 2022, the officials were apprehended and detained in Mbale City Central Police Station.

The suspects, according to Elgon Region Police Spokesperson Rogers Taitika, are identified as Aaron Mulyanyuma, the former town clerk of Nakoloke town council, who is suspected of conspiring with several councillors and other authorities to sell the stated land to a developer, Ismail Mukakandi.

Mukakandi was the worker’s representative and secretary of the workers’ committee at Mbale City Council at the time the land was sold to him.

Another suspect is Mulyanyuma’s deputy, Kassim Waboga, the former town clerk of Nauyo-Bugema town council, Monica Wazemwa the Physical Planner, Mary Nambuya the Health Inspector, and Sarah Kauza with Godfrey Washemba and Zebia Edyawu as some of the land committee members.

The defendants unlawfully conspired to sell government land that they were supposed to safeguard, according to lead investigator Daniel Mayombo of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit.

The individuals are charged with falsifying documents and collaborating with land grabbers, according to Taitika.

He claims that when police investigations are over, they are anticipated to show up in court to defend themselves against allegations of corruptly selling government land.

More people were anticipated to be detained in connection with the unauthorised sale of land owned by the Nakaloke Town Council.

The government land in question measures approximately 20 acres and was sold to private developers in 2020.

The town council’s offices, a football field, retail establishments, and a police station all once stood on a portion of the land in contention.

The same ground housed up to three boreholes, which the locals have been relying on in a region that struggles with a lack of safe and clean water.

Complaints from Locals

Ahmed Washaki, a Mbale City Resident City Commissioner (RCC), intervened in the stalemate at the end of last year after receiving several complaints from the worried citizens.

“We have guided on this matter but our people do not listen until it is too late,” Washaki said.

The same contentious land caught the attention of Raphael Magyezi, the Minister of Local Government.

Following a few conversations behind closed doors with the individuals involved, Magyezi suggested conducting a comprehensive and impartial inquiry into the situation.

He urged caution against local officials selling government property, emphasising that such a duty belonged to Parliament.

In a letter dated January 28, 2020, issued to Mulyanyuma, the previous Resident City Commissioner of Mbale city, Suleiman Barasa Ogajjo—now deceased—instructed him to stop selling and giving away land illegally within the town council.

The former Chief Administrative Officer of Mbale, Loyce Nambozo, issued the same deterrent order as Ogajjo.

Authorities and the developer disobeyed the orders, nevertheless, and kept building on the land.

The developer, Mukankadi, claims that he legally acquired the land after seeing an advertisement.

“If there is anyone to be answerable to this whole mess-up, it is Mbale city officials who sold the land to me. I did not get it fraudulently but legally from them,” Mukankadi reasoned.

The accusers, including Mulyanyuma, vigorously denied the claims, with the latter asserting that they were made to defame him and destroy his career.

Land Cases in Mbale City

In Mbale City, land disputes are a major issue, to the point that developers are building on sanitary lanes, access roads, and sewer lines.

At the beginning of this year (2022), at Tarehe-Sita national festivities held in Mbale City’s Malukhu Grounds, Mufti Sheik Shaban Mubajje requested that President Yoweri Museveni launch an investigation into what he called widespread land theft in the region.

“Land grabbing is wasting away this new city and I kind urge you Mr. President to intervene,” Mubajje pleaded.

The High Court’s neighbouring Mbale Uhuru Park, which used to host national events along Busamaga Road, was similarly privatised for an unspecified reason.

What was formerly Mbale Uhuru Park is now overrun with upscale homes and privately operated lodging establishments including hotels and guesthouses.

When another developer forced the then-town clerk Edward Lwanga out of the Masaba A premises in senior quarters in 2016, claiming ownership of the same property, the same city lost its official residence for its town clerk.

The Christian Cemetery at Malukhu was also taken from the government using the same ruses.

As a result of the development, Mbale City no longer has a public cemetery for members of the Christian faith; the Malukhu Ward now serves as the sole one.

Residents and environmental activists are currently engaged in a lengthy argument with municipal officials over the threat to clear the Mutoto Forest from the Mbale-Tororo Route.

The explanation given by the administration is that clearing the forest will enable the town to grow and create jobs.

“This forest helps clean the air of the city especially when we have industries that emit a lot of carbon. As environmentally enlightened town dwellers, we have resolved to do everything to save Mutoto Forest,” Edwin Wabombo, a resident said.

While they battle to protect the forest, developers have also removed a sizable portion of the Mbale City dumpsite at Doko along the Mbale-Tirinyi Road.

According to experts, land grabbers take advantage of the untitled public land in Mbale City.

“They work with insiders to establish untitled land, move very fast to title it and with the fraudulently processed ownership documents they go ahead to evict government entities,” Oscar Mukholi said.

Now, Mukholi and the other worried locals are hoping that the arrival of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit would help put the Mbale City land scandals behind us.

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