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Mediation in Anglican Church, Land Coin sh7.3b case resumes

By Michael Odeng

Added 26th July 2018 09:22 AM

Land Coin and the Church of Uganda board of trustees came into an agreement and the main objective was to ensure that the Government compensates the Church for its land

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Archbishop Stanley Ntagali on behalf of the Church of Uganda signed a pact with Land Coin which is the subject of the mediation.

Land Coin and the Church of Uganda board of trustees came into an agreement and the main objective was to ensure that the Government compensates the Church for its land

The mediation hearing of a case in which Land Coin Ltd is demanding Church of Uganda (CoU) sh7.3b commission resumes today.

Last month, CoU leaders and their lawyer Ronald Oine appeared before mediator Johnson Kwesigabo to have the case settled amicably but officials from Land Coin never turned up, prompting him (mediator) to adjourn the case.

The case came up after Land Coin helped the Church to secure compensation from the Government for its land so that it could clear a bank loan with Equity Bank, amounting to sh41b ($10m and another sh5b) towards the construction of the 16-storey Church House building on Kampala Road.

Court documents indicate that the Church requested Land Coin to intervene and speed up the process of ensuring that the Government compensates it for its 15 acres of land in Entebbe.

The land in question houses the Civil Aviation Authority headquarters, the agriculture ministry’s veterinary department and the China Construction and Communication Company campsite.

Equity Bank had given the Church 21 days from February 9, 2017, to clear all the outstanding arrears beyond which the bank was to proceed to advertise and sell the security pledged (Church House) by March 10, 2017. Sources said the Church negotiated with the bank for more time so that they could engage government for compensation so as to clear the loan arrears.

Earlier in June 2015, the late Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo and Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira had introduced Land Coin to Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, with the intention of giving the company the responsibility of helping to ascertain the extent of the Church’s interests in the Entebbe land.

For over 50 years, the Church of Uganda was neither using the land in question nor earning from it despite being its rightful owners.

Land Coin and the Church of Uganda board of trustees came into an agreement and the main objective was to ensure that the Government compensates the Church for its land, since the state had installations thereon.

Land Coin asked the Church for a 15% commission on the total compensation and Ntagali agreed to the proposal, and signed the pact. The company secured a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni on April 28, 2016, after compiling the information regarding the land.

The meeting was reportedly attended by the finance minister, Matia Kasaija, the finance ministry permanent secretary and secretary to the treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, Ntagali, and Land Coin director, Jonathan Tibisaasa.

In the meeting, Tibisaasa reportedly stressed the fact that the Church was in urgent need of money to service its loan with Equity Bank, and he asked the Government to come to the Church’s rescue by compensating it for its land at Entebbe.

Museveni reportedly directed Kasaija to look for money and pay the Church after involving the relevant bodies who included the lands minister, chief government valuer and the Uganda Land Commission.

The chief government valuer’s evaluation put the total value of the land at sh48.94b. Land Coin was therefore entitled to sh7.34b as its 15% commission according to the agreement. Sources revealed that government has since last year paid the church over sh30b in installments.

Church breaches agreement

However, the Church allegedly breached its agreement with Land Coin as it failed to pay the agreed 15% commission leading the company to drag it to court with a view to recover its money.

Land Coin argues that the Church later changed its mind and on February 22, 2018, through its lawyers, Sebalu and Lule Advocates, it wrote to Land Coin asking the company to avail the bank details so that funds can be advanced to it.

In a twist of events, however, the Church through its lawyers said Ntagali signed the contract with Land Coin by mistake and, therefore, the contract is null and void.

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