By Spy Uganda
Gomba: Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba has ordered locals in three villages in Kanoni, Gomba district to get back on their land and use it freely. This was at a meeting she held in two villages of Kitemu and Buwanguzi on Sunday, September, 12 where locals shared how they spend sleepless nights because of land grabbers who constantly threaten their lives.
In Kitemu, locals pinned one Peter Wasswa for terrorizing them by destroying their farms and fencing off the land which he grabs from the vulnerable people. In Buwanguzi on the other hand, locals say a one Nakibende renders them landless with her constant threats.
Mr Joel Kyajja the Mayor of Kanoni shared with the minister that ever since Mr Wasswa claimed ownership of this land, local leaders have always convened meetings but he has never shown up in any and only keeps evicting people.
He shared that even the Justice Bamugemereire led commission had also halted activities on the land but the directive wasn’t put into action.
“We wrote a joint letter as chairmen in the villages here in Kanoni calling for the intervention of the former lands minister. When she came, she discovered shoddy work in RDC and DPC offices. She directed them to harmonize the issue and survey the land so that the government can know the rightful owner and pay them for a lasting solution, this too was unfortunately not done,” he said.
Mr JB Etuusa who also claims to be the owner of the land explained how people keep changing titles of his land. He said he took the matter before the Mpigi Land office but the officials did not cooperate with him.
“I have never given Wasswa this land, I don’t know where he gets the titles from with his Mpigi land office people. Kindly handle this matter to its roots. There are people my father sold land to and they have the documents, once this mess is solved we shall do the transfers,” Etuusa shared.
In Buwanguzi, Mr Bosco Ssegirinya, the LC3 explained to the minister that the 300 plus acres of land have been under dispute for the last four years, something that even resulted in the death of a surveyor. He said landlords in the area refused Busulu but continue to grab people’s land.
“If you have five acres, they take three and give you the land title of the remaining two. Our people are not knowledgeable about land issues and fear so they end up doing mob justice. I request that these people be educated on their land rights.”
In her remarks, Nabakooba directed the RPC to ensure private bodyguards and gun-wielding operatives get off the lands. She also called out the police to ensure vigilance when handling land cases.
“I want the RDC and your team to try as much as you can and ensure that these people are not threatened. I don’t want to hear that so and so was beaten, arrested. Investigations are done by police, we may blame the court but it decides to base on the investigations from the ground,” she said.
Nabakooba added: “In my view since the government already decided to buy off this land, RDC, these people should go back on their bibanja. If they do not go back then who will the government be buying for this land?”
In Buwanguzi, about landlords refusing busuulu, the Minister said the government is in efforts of streamlining the Land Law whereby if one refuses the busuulu, it is taken to the district and banked there.
“Even in our forms of changing land titles, we are in talks at the ministry to put a provision where if someone is selling they are able to put it in writing if the land they are selling has tenants or not because the form has not been showing if the land title has tenants or not. This will help us strengthen the land laws,” the minister shared.
Nabakooba asked the local leaders to always prioritise the interests of the people because that is what President Museveni wants.
She however cautioned locals on taking the law in their hands but asked them to guard what belongs to them jealously because people trying to evict them are after making them lose hope.
“If you are on an agenda of fighting for what is yours, be bold, stand strong and avoid being cowards. We are going to resume investigations to establish the rightful landlords so that the government can buy from the rightful owner. If there is a mistake that was made, the people that did it will be held accountable.”
In her other directives, the minister directed the RDC to monitor and streamline the operations of the district land boards area committees to put an end to illegalities in the issuance of land titles.
Mr Steven Asiimwe, the RDC Gomba district requested the minister to iron out corruption tendencies in the lands offices. Mr Asiimwe said these offices should be tasked to explain how they can produce a number of land titles for the same piece of land. “You cannot get a title before the land office or district land board approves you. Civil servants in this area also need to be investigated to get to the root of this matter. There should also be the training of local leaders on their land rights and how to help locals,” he said.
According to Asiimwe, these are the first people landlords approach when they come to buy land in the villages, so if not trained on how to handle land-related matters, they risk being manipulated all the time.
Area MPs led by the Woman Ms Sylvia Nayebale the Woman MP of Gomba district and Mr Godfrey Ssaazi the Gomba East legislator also shared with the minister how the area had become a hotspot for land grabbing.
MP Nayebale requested the minister to constitute a meeting with the security minister and lands saying the two entities need to be on the same page to solve land-related issues. She also called upon the local leaders to be transparent in their operations of helping the bibanja owners.
“We have caused a number of challenges because of these double standards. As the locals fight for what is theirs, leaders are in the same boat with them. I thank the leaders that started this battle up to date. Hon Minister I kindly ask that an overhaul audit is done on this matter,” she said.
MP Ssaazi shared that he has been gathering information in regard to finding the rightful owner of the land ever since he won the election. Ssaazi called upon the locals to keep calm as the minister would ably address their issue. He asked them to never again take laws in their hands as they did initially when they killed a surveyor.
“Poverty alleviation is what the government is pushing but you cannot achieve this by evicting people from their land. I request that this land be put under caveat, investigations into the ownership are done and people be taken back on their bibanja.”
Below Is A Pictorial Of Minister Nabakooba With Gomba Locals And Area RDC Steven Asiimwe