UGANDA, Wakiso | Real Muloodi News | Amid controversy about who is the rightful owner of the Lubowa land on Block 269 in Wakiso District, President Museveni attended the launch of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), USh1.5 trillion Solana Lifestyle & Residences housing project which comprises opulent homes and luxury condominiums.
The launch took place on 8 September 2022, and President Museveni praised the NSSF’s investments in real estate and other productive economic sectors which contribute to the socio-economic growth of the nation.
Nevertheless, the NSSF and a certain group of four people in Lubowa are engaged in an increasingly heated dispute over the very land on which the NSSF housing project has been launched.
The four land claimants fighting to hold onto the Lubowa land are Muhammed Kityo Lubowa, Moses Bogere, Daphine Nakanwagi, and Betty Namanya.
However, it appears that the four private individuals who swore last week to oppose anybody attempting to forcibly claim possession of the Lubowa land were left out of the loop during the NSSF housing project launch.
Who Truly Owns Lubowa Land?
In July 2020, the State House Anti-Corruption Unit led by Col Edith Nakalema and the Police investigated the Lubowa land case in which 10 people allegedly acquired titles illegally on that same land owned by the NSSF.
According to a report in July 2020 by the State House Anti-Corruption, between 2003 and 2018, NSSF acquired 600 acres of land in Lubowa, comprising Kyadondo Block 269. This land is divided up into 109 individual freehold certificates of titles.
The land in contention is on block 269, plots 3234, 3235,3236,3237,3238,3239, and 3240, measuring over 186 acres and had been doubly registered as Block 269 plots 3234–3240 and Block 269 plot 1322.
NSSF got part of the land through a debt swap from National Housing and Construction Company Limited (NHCC), and they bought the rest from Uganda Company Holdings Limited. NSSF is legally registered as the holder of the land.
How the Four Individuals Got the Lubowa Land
In 2019, Muhammad Kityo Lubowa, Moses Bogere, Betty Namanya and Daphine Nakanwagi, applied for freehold titles on seven acres of land in Lubowa through the area land committee to the District Land Board of Wakiso, claiming to have inherited the land from their parents.
Investigations by Col Edith Nakalema’s State House Anti-Corruption Unit revealed the four hired a private unregistered surveyor, Patrick Onyango, to survey the land in question and get titles. This resulted in titles overlapping NSSF’s titles.
These four persons were investigated jointly with Onyango and five other people on accusations of forgery, possession of false documents, obtaining registration by false pretence and conspiracy to commit a felony. They were arraigned before the Magistrates Court at Makindye, but denied all the accusations.
Other suspects during that time were Shaban Kawooya, Steven Mayega, Leonard Kabonge, Damalie Kabenge alias Damalie Nakigozi and Sarah Nalongo Namukasa.
The prosecution alleged that on February 25, 2015, while at Ndejje Lubugumu, Makindye Ssabagabo in Wakiso District, the ten individuals and others still at large forged an application for conversion from customary tenure to freehold tenure in respect to land comprised in Kyaddondo Block 269 at Lubowa.
The prosecution also alleged that in 2019, at the office of the Registrar of titles at Wakiso Ministerial Zonal Offices in Wakiso District, Kityo, Bogere, Namanya and Nakanwagi knowingly and fraudulently made a false document with an application for conversion from customary tenure to freehold tenure in respect to land at Lubowa.
They claimed the four wilfully procured the registration on a certificate of title for seven acres of land at Lubowa by falsely pretending to own the land customarily.
According to the charge sheet, between 2015 and 2019 at various places in Wakiso District, Onyango forged a Job Record Jacket (JRJ) purporting to have surveyed the disputed Lubowa land under the supervision of Ssembajjwe Henry, a registered surveyor.
The investigations into the matter followed a request by Hon. Beti Kamya, who was the Minister of Lands at the time in a May 10, 2021 letter to Col Nakalema stated; “This is a case of double titling of land without adequate due diligence, one of the serious challenges my ministry is struggling with.”
In the letter to Col Nakalema, Hon. Beti Kamya added, “perhaps what is most glaring is that NSSF claims to have bought the freehold interest in 2003 from Uganda Company Holdings Limited, a foreign company prohibited by law to hold freehold proprietary interest inland, in effect Uganda Company Holdings Limited had no valid title in freehold to pass onto NSSF.”
How the Matter Reached Court
The land titles belonging to the four individuals were subsequently cancelled, which prompted the four to take the conflict to court for determination, filing a case against the Commissioner for Land Registration accusing him of illegally cancelling their titles.
On December 21, 2020, Justice Musa Ssekana ruled in their favour that the Commissioner for Land Registration had no right to cancel the certificate of titles based on a forgery, and therefore quashed the cancellation decision.
Justice Ssekana ordered the Ministry of Lands to reinstate their titles on the Land Management System from which they had been removed. It even ordered NSSF to compensate them for damages and costs.
“In the premises, I find that the respondent had no right to cancel the applicant’s certificate of the title based on forgery and I here grant this application with costs to the applicants,” Justice Ssekana Musa’s ruling reads.
According to a letter/memo from the Ministry of Lands dated 10 May 2021, Hon. Beti Kamya instructed the acting Commissioner for Land Registration to follow the court’s order and the ruling on 21 December 2020 allowing Muhammad Kityo Lubowa, Moses Bogere, Betty Namanya, and Daphine Nakanwagi to possess and freely enjoy their Lubowa land on plots 3234- 3240.
This will allow the latter to transact any lawful business of their choice on the subject land governed by the principle “justice delayed is justice denied.”
Hon Kamya who is now the Inspector General of Government (IGG) added in the memo that she will be informing Col. Edith Nakalema of these findings and her directive to comply with the court order.
On a similar matter, three former and current Wakiso land officers were to appear before the Anti-Corruption Court on the same day, September 8 2022 when the NSSF housing project launched, to be questioned for dishonestly obtaining a certificate and illegally retitling the disputed Lubowa land to private people, but the trial was adjourned.
The three officers include Herbert Katabalwa, Joseph Kizito, and Gilbert Kasozi who are currently charged with additional charges of abuse of office.
The suspects refute the allegations and blame an unidentified group of government officials working in several departments for pressuring NSSF to pay USh200 billion in compensation to the private land claimants.
Mr Richard Byarugaba, managing director of the NSSF, stated that after learning of the improper titling of the Workers’ Fund’s land, they informed the authorities.
“Investigations established irregularities and the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) has preferred charges against some of these individuals together with the lands officials involved in the irregular creation of titles on the Fund’s land. They have also filed cases in court. The Fund awaits the decisions of the court. In the meantime, we have full possession of our land and continue to develop it,” Mr Byarugaba said.
In October 2021, one of the four land claimants, Ms Betty Namanya and her husband accused NSSF of burning down their home as part of a land dispute in Nalumunye, Jomayi Estates, resulting in the deaths of two children, aged two and ten months.
Several government departments found interest in this land case, including the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, the Inspectorate of Government, the Ministry of Lands, and the Wakiso Land Office.
On July 19 2022, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among wrote to President Museveni on behalf of the claimants, requesting him to intervene.
According to the July 2020 State House Anti-Corruption report and search report by the Ministry of Lands, the surveyor’s assessment shows that the NSSF’s land at Lubowa has been fraudulently divided up.
The audit also revealed that employees at the ministry’s zonal office in Wakiso continued to questionably handle credentials about the land.
The report advised the Commissioner for Land Registration to evaluate the situation as a way of invalidating all titles that had been obtained illegally.
Close to Finish
A meeting was held in 2021 by the then-land minister, Ms Beti Kamya with representatives from her ministry, NSSF, the claimants, and Lubowa police to carry out a procedure for the same land’s border opening.
In a letter dated March 15, 2021, Ms Kamya declared it had been determined that the NSSF owned the land, in response to a letter dated March 2, 2021, by Col. Edith Nakalema.
However, according to Ms Kamya, the Ministry might face being held in contempt of court for failing to carry out the court decision of 21 December 2020.
“Implementation of the court order is not discretionary or optional lest this ministry and its officers be cited in contempt of court. It’s worth noting that the affected entity is the NSSF, with the machinery and the necessary legal apparatus to overturn or set aside the alleged unfair court order,” Ms Kamya wrote.
Mr Gilbert Kasozi, a senior land management officer at the Wakiso land zonal offices who is accused of abusing his position and titling NSSF’s land, filed a petition with the IGG, Ms Kamya, at the beginning of September 2022 regarding an alleged syndicated plot involving several officials to defraud taxpayers in a dubious compensation scheme.
Despite petitioning multiple agencies to stop the questionable remuneration, Mr Kasozi, whose signature was allegedly forged to launch the fake titles, claimed his expectations are dwindling because individuals implicated in the operation are dispersed across several top levels.
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