By Andrew Irumba
The permanent Secretary to Ministry of Finance Mr. Keith Muhakanizi has warned against ministers who cancel certificates of ownership of properties of the departed Asians under the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board (DAPCB).
In a strongly worded letter to George William Bizibu, the Executive Secretary Departed Asian Property Custodian Board, Muhakanizi referred to an earlier meeting during which it was guided that, where a repossession certificate for properties under the Board had been issued, only the relevant courts of law have the authority to cancel such certificates in accordance with the law.
“It was agreed that the ministry of finance and the Board must continue to respect the rule of law”, said Muhakanizi in his missive seen by SpyUganda on Tuesday.
Muhakanizi’s directive comes after the Land Probe chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire grilled Lands Minister Hon.Betty Amongi for reportedly using her company Amobet Investments Limited she co-owns with her sister Adongo Keti to acquire temporary possession of four lucrative government properties in Kampala after they were repossessed by the Asian family in 1992.
Amongi, who is a member of the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board is said to have used her position as minister to acquire the properties located along Acacia Avenue in the plush residential area of Kololo registered in the names of Toshak Munubhai Patel.
The property is currently occupied by Midcom Telecom. Another residence is located on Prince Charles Drive in Kololo.
In her defence, Amongi said her Managing Director tried to apply for the property as early as 2010 before her appointment as a Minister only to lose interest upon obtaining another opportunity in South Sudan.
It was not until 2015 that Mubiru resumed the search for property in Kampala during which brokers led him to the contested structures.
Nevertheless, Muhakanizi warned in his letter dated May 23, 2018 that “any orders of court must be complied with”.
He further cautioned that, “any person not acting in compliance with the law, will be held personally liable for whatever actions contrary to the law”.
The Finance Minister Chairs the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board.
Other members of the board include Lands Minister, Attorney General and Local Government Minister among others.
While Finance Minister Matia Kasaija has previously feigned ignorance about the alleged fraudulent allocation of Departed Asian Property, evidence was tendered before the Land Commission about the temporary allocation of property by the board, which was already re-possessed and certificates issued.
“By copy of this letter I am duly informing Hon Ministers who are members of the Departed Asians Property custodian Board (DAPCB) and the Clerk to Parliament who has requested information to assist Members of Parliament carry out their legislative and oversight functions in this matter” emphasized Muhakizi.