By Andante Okanya
Veteran politician John Ssebaana is locked in a land row with a family in the city suburb of Makindye, which accuses him of snatching land which they claim, is part of their graveyard.
On April 9, three individuals jointly filed a suit at the Lands division of the High Court in Kampala, seeking damages for trespass. The sum demanded is not indicated in the court documents.
The complainants are William Lubega, John Matovu, and Margaret Namusisi.Court documents show that they are residents of Mugalu Zone, Bukasa, Kyeitabya, Makindye division.
They are also demanding compensation for loss of bonafide occupancy on the nine-acre piece of land, registered as Kyadondo Block 246, plot 1363.
Ssebaana, also former president of the Democtaric Party, is a wealthy businessman with vast interests in real estate and insurance.
Additionally, the trio is seeking a return of the remains of five relatives which they claim Ssebaana exhumed illegally and re-buried in Luwero.
“The defendants were at all material times not related to the plaintiffs nor to the deceased persons and as such were not entitled in both law and culture to exhume the said remains and bury them elsewhere,” the plaint states.
Through Kwesigabo, Bamwine, and Walubiri Advocates, they assert that in 1940, a one Elizabeth Babirye and her brother Amporianto Irumba settled on the contentious land.
They state that Babirye died in 1993, and was buried on the same land.In their explanation, they note that after Babirye’s demise, interest in the land devolved to Irumba.
They state that Irumba relocated to Nabingora, Kasambya, Mubende district, where he currently lives.
Court documents show that in an agreement dated January 20, 2014, Irumba assigned all his interest in the said land to Ssebaana and a only identified as Katamba.
They three claim to be descendants of Babirye, with a right to occupancy of land, having lived all their lives on the said piece of land.
They claim to have been born in 1965(Lubega),1979(Matovu), and 1962(Namusisi).
Ssebaana is accused of embarking on a subdivision of the land in 1996, despite protests from the complainants.
They lament that in 2000, Ssebaana confined them to a piece of the land measuring half an acre(50 decimals), with assurance of undisturbed possession.
The trio claim that sometime in 2006, destruction of their shelter as a result of bad weather, compelled them to rent in the neighbourhood. They however claim to have continued tending their gardens and the graveyard.
Court documents also show that Ssebaana in a letter dated September 10, 2013 addressed to the local council one chairperson Mugalu zone, requested for permission to transfer the remains.
The trio lament that this year on February 11, Katamba unexpectedly descended onto the 50decimals, cut down their crops and started digging trenches for construction.
But in a joint statement of defence with Katamba filed on April 22, Ssebaana rubbishes the trio’s claims, saying he became the registered proprietor of the land on September 29, 1985. A certificate dated the same is attached in his court documents
Through Asasira and Company Advocates, he asserts that it has been free of any emcumbrances.
“The first defendant(Ssebaana) does not know any person to have any interest on his land. His land has been vacant and no home has ever been built on it since 1985,” the defence states in part.
Ssebaana claims the graveyard belongs to him, and that he had the right to move the remains to any place he wished.
The case file has been allocated to Justice Wilson Kwesiga. However, a hearing date is yet to be fixed.
Ssebaana in city graveyard land row