By Andante Okanya
KAMPALA - Former minister Mathew Rukikaire is locked in a sh228m row with land dealer Jomayi Property Consultants.
Rukikaire, who was state minister for privatization until a parliamentary censure in 1999, filed a civil suit at the High Court in Kampala on June 18, accusing Jomayi of breach of trust.
Through his lawyers – Ojambo and Ojambo Advocates – the ex-minister says his liaison with the land dealer started on November 1, 2012 when he sold to it 11 acres of land at sh270m.
The land in question is comprised in Kyaggwe Block 88, Plot 908.The entire piece of land is 40 acres.
Subsequently on December 1 the same year, he sold to the company another 5.43 acres of land at sh147m, which was supposed to be paid within 90 days.
By the sale agreement, Rukikaire says, it was recognised that the entire 40-acre land was a subject of a mortgage held by Tropical Bank Limited.
According to him, this was on account of a loan granted to Riverside Acres Limited, a company in which he is a director and majority shareholder.
Court documents state that the money was supposed to be paid directly into an account at Tropical Bank in the names of Rukikaire’s company, to settle the debt.
“In good faith, the plaintiff [Rukikaire] handed over possession of the purchased land to the defendant and communicated to the bank about the defendant’s commitment to pay,” states the plaint.
By the time the suit was filed, Jomayi had only made partial payment of sh312m, leaving an outstanding balance of sh105m, according to the former minister, who contends that the land dealer was aware that the loan was attracting interest.
He reneged on his loan obligations as a result of Jomayi’s breach of agreement.
Failure to service the loan saw the debt rise to sh295.6m, which led the bank to threaten to instruct its lawyers to seek full recovery.
Mathew Rukikaire was state minister for privatization until a parliamentary censure in 1999
Rukikaire explains that he requested the bank for time to explore options of settling the debt. Subsequently, he says he was compelled to pledge the land title to a one Arvind Patel for a sh173m loan at a rate of 15% from May 12 this year.
He claims to have has suffered anxiety and inconvenience as a result of Jomayi’s purported actions, asking court to award him general damages.
The figure could rise above the sh238m if court rewards Rukikaire interest as demanded at a rate of 27% from the date of the purported breach until full payment.
The ex-minister also wants Jomayi to be condemned to costs. The costs he incurred in the case can only be calculated, a bill of costs drawn, and taxed by the court.
The court has ordered Jomayi to file its defence within 15 days from the date of receipt of the summons.
In the summons signed by the assistant registrar of the division dated June 18, 2014, Jomayi has been cautioned to heed, lest the case is decided in its absence.
When New Vision sought a comment from Jomayi, an administrator who identified herself as Laeticia Balaba, in a telephone conversation, said she was unaware of the suit.
Shehowever acknowledged business dealings with Rukikaire, noting that if the disagreement had turned into a subject of litigation, the company would engage Rukikaire in talks to resolve the matter.
“We haven’t received anything like that. However, it is true that we have a memorandum of understanding with Rukikaire. We shall try to amicable sort out the disagreement,” she said.
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