By Chris Kiwawulo
Mzee Yokaana Taliikwa, 87, was relaxing at home in Wamala-Bukasa in Kajjansi-Bwebajja, Wakiso district when a group of people wielding pangas stormed his home, demanding that he vacates the land because it no longer belonged to him.
The elderly father of 12 says they showed him land titles of the new owner, one Joseph Bazira Kagimu, former Entebbe Mayor, who had sent them to evict him.
That was in 2007 and the battle between Taliikwa and a gang of ‘connected’ people was just beginning.
Today, the old man is still fighting for over 19.70 acres of prime land at Kajjansi in a protracted effort that has smelt the corruption stench, pitted helplessness against ‘connections’ and is still ongoing.
The saga is also exposing big names in the leadership of the country, putting pressure on the Police and the Judiciary and placing the Presidents pledge on protecting land owners under question.
Mzee Taliikwa says he bought the land from Gabudyeri Galabuzi in 1958 and has a transfer form dated June 13, 1958.
The land is located on block 405, plot 139-140 within Wakiso’s Sisa sub-county on Entebbe road.
“I have been using this land for agriculture, brick-laying, stone quarrying and sand mining since the 1950s,” he says.
Businessmen Joseph Bazira Kagimu of Bazira Construction Company, Philip Katamba of Freshmans Limited, Amos Nzeyi and Andrew Kalibbala Kalanzi have since been linked to the land.
Interestingly, the land has since been sub-divided into several plots by Wakiso district lands officials.
It now has signposts of Palm Valley Golf and Country Club of Bwebajja. Tycoon Amos Nzeyi is the club chairman and the golf course is located near the contested land.
The legal battle begins
When Mzee Taliikwa got the shocking news, he appealed to his sons for assistance. One of them, Patrick Muwanga, helped him lodge a caveat on the land in the lands ministry on December 10, 2007. But the ceasefire did not last. Before a year elapsed, the caveat had been removed without his knowledge.
“I just saw Kagimu’s graders raping my land,” he said. “I rushed to Police and the President’s office (economic monitoring department). The economic monitoring state minister at that time, Vincent Nyanzi, intervened and stopped the grading of the land until the issues around it were resolved.” That was in January 2010
Who removed the Caveat?
Investigations have established that former lands registrar, Sarah Basangwa Kulata, authorised the removal of the caveat in a letter dated September 18, 2008 to assistant registrar Veronica Namutebi.
Saturday Vision has learned that before removing the caveat, Namutebi wrote to Taliikwa through his lawyers, Ruhindi and Company advocates.
However, a wrong address (P.O Box 228220 Kampala) was placed on the letter instead of P.O Box 22820 Kampala. Although Namutebi told Police that it was a typing error, the Police suspect that the extra digit (2) was included deliberately to ensure that Taliikwa did not get the letter.
A Police report dated November 4, 2011 signed by detective commissioner of Police, William Kototyo, noted that “the letter was deliberately sent to a wrong address”, adding that there were several discrepancies which point to suspected fraud by Kagimu.
Police finds more discrepancies
The Police noted that Taliikwa has been using the land for the last 40 years and therefore could not have sold. They also observed that the instrument to register the transfer of Plot 140 was entered in the lands register eight days before Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) cleared the transaction.
New Vision has also established that the two plots (139 and 140) now have the same instrument number, 67851, yet they should be different.
Documents show that plot 140 was transferred from Taliikwa into that of Kagimu’s name on October 14, 2003 after Kagimu purportedly bought the land. Kagimu later transferred the land to Freshmans Limited on January 28, 2009. Plot 139 was purportedly transferred from Taliikwa’s name into that of Kalanzi on July 24, 1973 and later into Kagimu’s name on June 21, 1981.
Although none of the land titles had a mortgage, Saturday Vision has established that the Luganda version of the sale agreement for plot 139 between Kalanzi and Kagimu dated May 21, 1981, shows that the title was mortgaged and would be accessed by Kagimu from a bank which was not mentioned.
On January 12, 2009, a lawyer, Sanyu Namayanja from Mwesige, Mugisha and Company advocates, acting on behalf of Kagimu, translated the sale agreement from Luganda into English. However, the English agreement does not show who the land buyer was, as both Kalanzi and Kagimu are indicated as sellers and none of their signatures is on the document.
Investigations also discovered that there are two conflicting versions about how Kagimu acquired the land. In a declaration drawn by Lwere, Lwanyaga and Company advocates that Kagimu signed on April 10, 2008, he claimed to have bought the two plots of land (139 and 140) from Mzee Taliikwa.
However, other documents seen by Saturday Vision show that Kagimu bought plot 139 measuring 7.08 hectares from Kalanzi at sh68,000, and that Kalanzi got the same land from Taliikwa as a gift on July 24, 1973. Asked whether he had donated the land to Kalanzi, Taliikwa wondered: “I have my children, how could I give land to a person I don’t even know?”
Police investigators have failed to trace Kalanzi’s whereabouts. According to Police, Kalanzi is “invisible.” Muwanga suspects Kalanzi was a creation of the fraudsters used to grab his father’s land.
Kototyo also pointed out: “I also observe that despite several communications we made to the commissioner land registration (Kulata), all the transfer of plots was done after Police/CID communications.” He recommended that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) makes a final decision on the matter.
Court file goes missing
New Vision has, however, learnt that before the criminal case file against Kagimu could be sent to the DPP, it disappeared twice between the DPP’s office and the Police. At one point, the file was discovered with another number CID HQTRS C40/207 instead of the original number CID HQTRS E/37/08. The file is yet to be sanctioned.
Saturday Vision has also discovered that the civil case file on the matter disappeared from the High Court’s land division and efforts to trace have remained futile.
Taliikwa’s lawyers on September 22, 2008, wrote to the registrar seeking for opening of a duplicate file but he says nothing has been done to date.
What the judiciary says
The family has now petitioned the justice and constitutional affairs minister, Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, seeking his intervention. Judiciary spokesperson Elias Kisawuzi said he needed time to study the case because the land division was not at the Court of Appeal where his office is located.
He wondered why Taliikwa did not petition higher authorities in the judiciary before going to the media, citing the High Court registrar general, principal judge and chief justice as people who could have helped him.
Asked whether a lost file could be duplicated, Kisawuzi said: “I cannot say it can be duplicated or not because it depends on the stage at which the case is. I need to find out more about the case.”
What does Kagimu say?
Kagimu told Saturday Vision that he genuinely bought the land from Mzee Taliikwa. “That old man is lying. How can he say he never sold land to me?”
He added that it was he who sold to Palm Valley Golf and Country Club, which is linked to Nzeyi.
About the conflicting documents and discrepancies in the transfer, Kagimu admitted that mistakes could have been made.
On the Police findings, Kagimu said he had no comment. Asked where Kalanzi had disappeared to, Kagimu said he did not know because it was a long time since he had bought the land from him in 1981.