UGANDA, Fort Portal | Real Muloodi News | In September 2022, Verida Kajungu Degeya of Lubaga Division in Kampala was discovered dead in the River Mpanga in Fort Portal City. The incident occurred two months after she allegedly lost a 0.25-acre plot of land with four houses to a dubious money lender, who subsequently sold the property to Milly Babirye Babalanda, Minister for the Presidency.
Minister Babalanda acquired the property for USh650 million in a complicated transaction that has since been called questionable and unlawful. The matter dates back more than a year.
The late Verida Kajungu Degeya, a widow of Fredrik Degeya, was listed as the registered owner of the property along with their only daughter, Florence Namubiru.
Mrs Kajungu had approached William Kigongo, a money lender, for a short-term loan of USh170 million and agreed to pay back the loan in a fixed three-month period. However, the loan agreement which was signed on July 15, 2021, states she was required to repay USh300 million in three-months.
Two days prior, the money lender Mr Kigongo, Ms Namubiru, and Mrs Kajungu apparently all signed a sale agreement showing that the mother and daughter had sold the land to the money lender. According to its registration, the property is located in Block 16, Kibuga Volume 1530, Plot 336.
It brings into question how one may sell a property and then use the same property as collateral security to obtain a loan from the same individual two days later.
Nevertheless, because Mr Kigongo was not a registered money lender, he had no requirement to demand collateral as security for the loan.
However, Ms Namubiru’s lawyer, Stanley Okecho, claims that there was no sale.
“That’s why he had to disguise that the land had been sold to him. But clearly, there was never a sale. Because you can’t enter into a loan agreement on a property that is already sold,” says lawyer Okecho.
Unexpectedly, on August 19, 2021, roughly one month after Mrs Kajungu and her daughter entered into the loan agreement and two months before the loan was due to be paid, Mr Kigongo changed the title into his own name. Ms Namubiru claims that the transfer was made by forging her and her mother’s signatures.
“The only agreement that I have ever appended my signature on is the one he was giving money. If my signature is on any other document, either it was forged or I was tricked into signing it. But knowingly I never signed on any transfer forms,” Ms Namubiru says.
To prevent Mr Kigongo from selling the land to a third party, Mrs Kajungu placed a caveat on it. In an affidavit she swore in support of the caveat, through Bbaale & Partners Advocates & Legal Consultants, Mrs Kajungu stated her relationship with Mr Kigongo was no more than that of a money lender.
“While I was in some financial need I, together with my said daughter obtained a loan facility of 170 million Shillings from Kigongo William and surrendered to him the certificate of title of the said land as security… I have discovered that Kigongo William transferred the land into his name and now he claims that he purchased the said land and the property thereon, which is not true,” Mrs Kajungu’s affidavit reads.
According to the affidavit which was written on April 22, 2022, Mr Kigongo began seeking purchasers for the aforementioned land to sell it to other parties. Mrs Kajungu’s affidavit was approved on April 27, 2022.
Mrs Kajungu’s daughter, Ms Namubiru, acknowledges cosigning the loan arrangement, however, she says the terms of the loan were predatory.
“How can someone give you money and in three months that money is doubled? But I had less power to stop my mother from taking the loan because she said she had other loans from other people and she needed to clear them. I actually had wanted her to just sell the property instead of getting a loan from a money lender,” Ms Namubiru says.
In contrast, Mr Kigongo denies ever lending Mrs Kajungu and her daughter any money.
When interviewed, Mr Kigongo claimed he purchased the property outright. But he does not explain why he is referred to as a money lender in the sale agreement that was later signed on May 5, 2022, allegedly by Mrs Kajungu, Ms Namubiru, and Minister Babalanda.
Additionally, Mr Kigongo declines to explain how, less than three months after the loan arrangement was signed, the land was transferred into his own name.
According to documents, the caveat Mrs Kajungu lodged was removed on July 11, 2022, following an apparent agreement dated May 5, 2022 between Mrs Kajungu and Ms Namubiru as vendors, William Kigongo as the money lender, Dan Lwasa and Fred Lukyamuzi the Mailo Landowners to which the vendors had a lease, and minister Milly Babalanda, to whom the land was subsequently sold at 650 million Shillings. The Minister’s mortgage was financed by Housing Finance Bank.
According to the agreement, the proceeds would be divided among the parties with Mr Kigongo receiving USh330 million, the Mailo landowners receiving USh200 million, and Mrs Kajungu and her daughter receiving the remaining USh120 million.
The agreement also states USh100 million was to be handed to each party on the day it was signed, with the remaining balance to be delivered after the land title had been processed and transferred back into Mrs Kajungu and Ms Namubiru’s names, after having been transferred into Mr Kigongo’s name.
An amendment to the original sales agreement was later signed on June 4, 2022 changing the way the proceeds were to be distributed.
According to the amendment, Mrs Kajungu and Ms Namubiru were paid USh50 million, but it does not state if USh 70 million out of the original USh 120 million was previously paid or not. The Mailo Landowners were paid USh170 million, and Mr Kigongo was paid his USh 330 million in full.
Additionally, the amendment states that Mrs Kajungu and Ms Namubiru’s USh50 million would be deposited into the bank account of Mrs Kajungu’s lawyer, Sadat Bbaale.
Ms Namubiru maintains that even though they were purportedly granted USh120 million, she never got even a single cent despite being a co-owner of the property.
In fact, according to documents, the only acknowledgment of receipt of money was the 50 million Shillings received by Mrs Kajungu’s lawyer on July 5, 2022.
Ms Namubiru also claims that throughout the sales deal, she never witnessed the minister visiting their property to speak with them or look over the asset she was buying.
However, on May 27, 2022, lawyer Bbaale Sadat sent a letter to all tenants demanding that they vacate the properties within a month to give the minister vacant possession of them. This meant that Ms Namubiru and her mother had to find somewhere else to stay.
Ms Namubiru says that without anywhere to relocate to, they went to her mother’s sister’s home in Gayaza.
“This was a shocker; I asked myself where my mother put the 120 million Shillings that was allegedly paid to her. How could she, at her age not have somewhere to go after selling a property, which was valued at over 1 billion Shillings?” Ms Namubiru says.
Then, in early September 2022, Mrs Kajungu told her daughter she was travelling to Fort Portal to check on her relations there, and would return to Gayaza after a couple of days. That was the last time Ms Namubiru heard of her mother alive. Some days later, Mrs Kajungu was found dead in the Mpanga River.
According to a police post-mortem report dated September 22, 2022, there was no confirmed cause of death. However, Ms Namubiru believes there is a link between her mother’s death and the Lubaga property deal.
“…I’m not convinced that her death was innocent. I believe she was pushed. I looked everywhere in her things and I didn’t see anything that suggested that she had sold, let alone received, more than USh100 million. I believe there was foul play in her death,” Ms Namubiru says.
Currently, Kampala police are looking into the transaction and the unsolved death.
Response from Minister Babalanda
Due to the nature of her position, Minister Babalanda says that her attorneys at Natala & Co. Advocates completed the necessary research on her behalf.
Babalanda questioned how someone could turn against her because the transaction, in her opinion, was transparent.
Babalanda says that anyone who accuses her of misconduct runs the prospect of being prosecuted for damaging her otherwise impeccable reputation.
Ms Namubiru is also suspicious of Sadat Bbaale, her mother’s lawyer.
“The same man who brought the money lender is the same man who instituted a caveat on the land and is the same man who brought minister Babalanda to buy the property. When the money was paid, it was paid in his bank account yet we also have accounts. I have never seen even a coin of that so-called USh100 million, yet he knew that we co-owned the land,” Ms Namubiru says.
However, lawyer Bbaale declined to comment about the situation, claiming that the police investigating officer would be the best person to speak to.
“They sold to the minister and she dully paid and they advanced her possession of the property, what else do they want? They lodged a complaint with the police. I will avail you of the contact of the investigating officer I believe he will be of use to you. You will get all you need from him,” Bbaale’s message reads in part.
All parties to the sale have now received letters from Ms Namubiru’s lawyers asking that they give up the property.
In a letter dated October 28, 2022, sent to Housing Finance Bank, Bbaale Sadat, Minister Babalanda, and William Kigongo, Ms Namubiru threatens legal action against the parties if they do not comply with her requests.
“The purpose of this communication is to demand as hereby do that you immediately do the following; cancel or cause the cancellation of all entries affecting our client’s leasehold interest and reinstate our client’s running lease, immediately handover the duplicate certificate of title of land… Cancel or cause the cancellation of the illegal and fraudulent mortgage which affects our client’s leasehold interest, pay our client USh50 million for the inconvenience and legal fees,” the letter reads in part.
But in response to the letter, John Sitakange, the chief credit officer at Housing Finance Bank, and Anne Abeja, the bank’s Director of Legal Affairs, says the Bank made all of the necessary checks before approving the minister’s mortgage.
“Be informed that your claims of any fraudulent dealings attributed to the bank with respect to the registration of the mortgage are absurd and untrue. Please note that in all mortgage transactions, the Bank conducts due diligence both on the property and in the Land Registry to confirm the registered proprietorship and whether are any encumbrances before proceeding to offer a loan facility to an applicant. Where an encumbrance is found, the Bank does not proceed with the transaction. As a result, the mortgage registration process is always in line with the stipulated laws, regulations, and procedures,” the letter reads in part.
Ms Namubiru’s lawyer, Stanley Okecho, claims that the deal is rife with flaws and that it would not hold up in court.
“You have someone lending money when he is not legally supposed to lend money, you have transfers that are dubious, and then you find a bank giving a mortgage without following proper procedures. The mortgage is dated July 14, 2022, the transfer is dated July 21, 2022. You can’t give money to someone who got registered on July 27, 2022,” Okecho says.
He states that Ms Namubiru’s case is not unique in that other cases also include extremely high-interest rates that make it nearly difficult for borrowers to repay their debts. Untold numbers of people have lost their mortgaged property as a result of this.
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