UGANDA, Mukono | Real Muloodi News | Henry Ssemujju, a Kisoga resident in Mukono District has accused officials of the Mukono District Land Board and the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) of grabbing his land.
Ssemujju discloses that the intentions of stealing the land were revealed in 2004 when his elder sister, Beatrice Nannono, was killed in cold blood and original documents concerning the land lease were taken away from her.
The murder happened at the time when the 99-year lease to VF Maine dating back to the colonial days had expired, and Ssemujju’s family held a meeting to decide whether or not to renew the lease concerning the land in issue.
“My elder sister Beatrice Nannono who was 58 at the time, was given all the documents to go to Mukono District Land Board to check whether or not to give a new lease or stop the occupants and repossess the land,” Ssemujju said.
“At the Mukono office, she found a one Robert Nyombi who was the head of the district land board. They checked and my grandfather’s land was intact. Nyombi asked her to leave him with original documents but she called back home inquiring and my father told him to leave only photocopies…unfortunately, my sister never made it back home. They murdered her, decapacitated her and took all the documents,” he added.
Ssemujju reveals that he started pursuing the case in 2008. He started with the different offices in the district, the ULC, the Ministry of Lands, and the Police, but he says he received no help.
He discloses that the Mukono District Land Board offered him 30 acres of land and advised him to surrender the rest, which advice and offer he refused.
Having refused to surrender the rest of the land, Ssemujju travelled to Lancaster in the United Kingdom in 2021, where he secured the original land title and lease agreement to VF Maine. The original lease provided that Maine was not to sell or mortgage the land but rather to give it back to the landlord upon expiry of the lease.
This information was contrary to what the different land offices had responded to him. He had been told that his family land was sold to the British government in the 1950s.
He, therefore, brought the original title and presented it to the ULC. Beatrice Byenkya, the Commission chairperson, instead advised that Ssemujju should convince his family to share the land with the Commission.
“She told us that we could keep 400 acres and ULC would take the 380. We agreed and put this in writing, but the moment the commission received the letter, Mrs. Byenkya cut off all communication with us,” he said.
Joseph Jjuuko, one of the lawyers of Ssemujju said that they have decided to seek the help of the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED), a pressure group.
“We shall pursue these people legally and we have the resources. But we want you Mr. President (Joseph Kabuleeta) to take this on as a political leader and we shall be bringing you more victims like this,” counsel Jjuuko said.
Mr Kabuleeta, the NEED president responded by promising to take on the matter and continuing to expose such corrupt people occupying the land offices in the country.
“We want to show these people that there can be consequences in stealing people’s land, that is why I am happy that this man came with all his documentation,” Kabuleeta said.
In recent months, Mukono District has been characterised by deaths, abductions and arrests of people over land and property wrangles. If it is not the Police in connivance, it would be the city tycoons or officials with the power to do anything they want. It would be comforting and a heart rest to know that justice still exists in the high places and that someone in the high offices is at least fighting for the land rights of the weak and voiceless.
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