By Our Reporter
Fraudulent land transactions are increasingly taking place in various parts of the country.
Greater Kibaale (Kibaale, Kakumiro and Kagadi districts) has not been spared, with reports indicating that top politicians have ‘connived’ with their friends mostly campaign agents and businessmen to fraudulently partition and share customary land (even with bonafide occupants) amongst themselves.
Spy Ugandaunderstands that when the Kibaale District Land Board was constituted over 10 years ago, top politicians schemed and identified customary land in the district that was easy to ‘grab’.
Consequently, due to the power they wielded, they easily manipulated the system and got themselves freehold titles on land that had bonafide occupants and institutions like schools, hospitals and churches among others.
However, it is understood that they didn’t follow the legally accepted procedures in acquiring these freehold titles.
All this happened when George William Namyaka was the Kibaale district LCV Chairperson.
It is reported that Namyaka and his family also benefited from this land ‘bonanza’.
Today, in Kakumiro district (curved out of Kibaale district a few years ago), a whole village is facing land eviction following issuance of these dubious land titles.
The LC in question is Kiliisa, Kanyinabaingi village that is located in Kasambya Sub-County, Bugangaizi West County, Kakumiro district.
According to documents obtained by this site, Gabusa Mikaili (in his 40s) got the title of the land in question on April16, 2009. It was issued by Dr. Yafesi Okia on behalf of Commissioner of Surveys and Mapping.
Reports indicate that Mikaili is a businessman in Kakumiro district.
Located at Plot 1 Bugangaizi Block 335 at Kiliisa LC1, Kanyinabaingi village, the land measures approximately 96 hectares and is home to about 50 homesteads, over 500 residents, school and Church.
According to residents, the impending eviction will not only affect the 500 residents, but the entire Kikaada parish because the affected school and church serve people and pupils from various villages.
There are fears of bloodshed after the ‘owner’ moved to open the boundaries, yet residents resisted the exercise (boundary opening) to take place on grounds that it will eventually lead to their eviction from land they have lived on for several decades.
According to the title seen by this website, the 96 hectares of land will only give the right of way and leave the existing road for public use.
According to a letter dated July24, 2019, John Byarugaba, the District Staff Surveyor-Kibaale District Local Government informs the Chairperson LCI- Kiliisa, Kanyinabaingi village of the impending opening of boundaries of the land in question by Survey Tech Solutions Ltd.
“Note that opening boundaries does not lead to eviction of lawful and bonafide occupants on the land,” the letter reads in part.
It was also copied to the District Natural Resource Officer-Kakumiro, Resident District Commissioner -Kakumiro, District Police Commander-Kakumiro, Chairperson LCIII-Kasambya, OC Station Uganda Police-Kasambya, Survey Tech Solutions and the registered Proprietor (Mikaili).
According to the letter, Edward Businge, the lead surveyor of the team was to conduct the exercise on Tuesday 30th July 2019.
However, this didn’t take place as area residents protested the move, questioning the manner in which their own resident (Mikaili) acquired the title on land they have occupied for decades.
The residents further argued that the land was never surveyed before issuance of the title.
They added that as bonafide occupants, they were not informed about the matter, an indication that it was fraudulently acquired.
“The title was acquired fraudulently.
It should be cancelled before blood is shed; we petitioned State House but we are yet to get help,” a resident, speaking on condition of anonymity said, adding that there’s no need for government to compensate people who fraudulently processed land titles on land that isn’t theirs.
School, Church Affected
According to the title, the land on which Kikaada Primary School, one of the oldest schools in Kasambya Sub-County sits, now ‘belongs’ to Mikaili. The government owned school under Universal Primary Education (UPE) was founded in early 1980s and sits on about 10 acres of land.
Residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, say if the land is taken and school is evicted, about eight LCs surrounding it will be affected.
“The school has been in existence for several years. It educated many people including Mikaili. We can’t allow its land to be grabbed in broad-day light,” one resident said.
Kikaada Catholic Sub-Parish is also set to be affected as its land has been taken over by Mikaili. The Church sits on about 10 acres of land.
However, parishioners have also vowed to resist eviction on grounds that the Church has existed for several decades.
They are also interested in knowing how Mikaili acquired the title.
Office of the President Petitioned
According to Kiliisa residents, the plot to grab their land has been on for many years albeit unsuccessfully.
According to the residents, Mikaili got the title with the help of the late Rubowa Kirizestomu, the then District Councilor for Kasambya Sub-County and a former lands minister.
They say the top politicians ‘rewarded’ him with the land after severally helping them garner support from the voters in the area.
It is understood that the late Rubowa also got himself a land title in the same area.
“His land borders with one Mikaili,” a resident said, adding that similar freehold titles were issued around the same period in various parts of Kibaale.
To avert the forceful eviction, in 2010, the residents through a one Emmanuel Irumba and Max Magenyi petitioned the Office of the President, accusing Rubowa and Mikaili of using police to arrest and threaten them.
Accordingly, in a letter dated April1, 2010, Mohammed Mayanja, the Special Presidential Assistant-RDC Desk, Office of the President wrote to Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Kibaale District over the persecution of Kiiisa residents over their ‘bibanja’.
“The Minister has directed me to direct you to intervene in this matter with utmost urgency and identify the perpetuators and ensure that land grabbing stops hence forth,” the letter reads in part.
It adds: “You are expected to furnish the Office (of the President) with a report on your findings and action taken,” it adds.
However, residents say no action was taken save for the ‘land grabbers’ taking a break.
The ‘rightful owners’ are now back in full swing and want bonafide occupants out of their land.
According to the Uganda Land Act, leasehold land tenure means the holding of land for a given period from a specified date of commencement, on such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon by the lessor and lessee.
It’s not clear what period was given to Mikaili. It’s also not clear what he intends to do with the land. The Act also details functions of the District Land Board and how customary land is converted to freehold.
According to the Act, the Board shall “hold and allocate land in the district which is not owned by any person or Authority.”
In this case, residents say the land was already owned by them. On conversion of customary tenure to freehold tenure, the Act says an application for conversion from customary tenure to freehold tenure shall be done in the prescribed form and shall be submitted, together with the prescribed fee, to the committee of the area in which the land the subject of the application is situated.
“On receipt of the report and recommendations of the committee, the board shall cause the land in respect of which the application is made to be surveyed before approving the application,” the Act reads in part.
However, residents say the above procedure was totally ignored.