By James Galabuzi Mukasa
Chapter 16 Article 246 of the Constitution of Uganda recognises cultural and traditional institutions. Before the abolition of Cultural Institutions in 1967 Constitution, succession matters were handled culturally.
This system would reflect the profile and bio data of the deceased which included his relatives, children, properties among others. A Certificate of Succession would be issued after the set criteria were fulfilled.
This system was better because in the African context, we can easily be identified by our cultural or traditional systems.
Letters of Administration replaced the certificate of succession. Unfortunately, the criteria followed to acquire Letters of Administration have created fraud within the Judiciary.
For instance, the first person to apply to Court takes the day! Some of the requirements include LC1 letter of introduction, Death Certificates, an advertisement in any Public Gazette for 14 days whereby failure by any body to lodge a caveat on this Application, mandates the applicant to acquire the Letters of Administration.
Actually some people advertise through newspapers which are not usually read or through the Uganda Gazette which is not easily accessible.
Let me share a personal testimony. I am one of the Administrators of an Estate whose Letters of Administration under Administration Cause No. 1338 OF 2004 were granted in 2006 by High Court.
Interestingly, the same High Court issued other Letters of Administration on the same Estate in 2013 under Administration Cause No. 225 of 2013 to certain fraudsters!
I met some High Court Officials in a bid to ascertain ways of revoking these Letters of Administration and advised me to file a suit against these fraudsters for revocation of those Letters of Administration.
These fraudsters claimed to be children of the Deceased in their application yet they are not known in the family. Had it been that the cultural systems recommended to Courts on who should be granted Letters of Administrations, this fraud wouldn’t have happened. Interestingly, the High Court is fully computerised but its workers couldn’t detect that this Estate already had Letters of Administration.
The Administrator General’s Office convenes meetings with the Deceased’s families before the Certificate of No Objection is issued. This system has been abused by fraudsters, who masquerade as relatives of Deceased and claim interest on the Estate.
Fake documents are authored at Nasser Road to qualify their interests. By the way, some Applications go straight to Court without seeking for Certificate of No Objection from the Administrator General’s Office. This is evidenced by the afore stated testimony where the Letters Of Administration Application went straight to Court and granted without a Certificate Of No Objection from the Administrator General.
The Government should mandate the Office of the Administrator General to work closely with cultural and traditional institutions in handling succession matters especially since they fall under their docket and recommend to Courts on who is eligible to acquire Letters Of Administration with specific reasons.
Cultural systems can easily document the lineage and Bio data of any deceased person in Uganda. Then the Court shall use its discretion and mandate to make a decision accordingly.
This means that the main players in the process of applying for Letters of Administrations are the Administrator General’s Office, Cultural and Traditional Institutions and finally the Courts of Law which grant Letters Of Administration.
The writer is the founder member of Uganda Land Owners Association