The land measuring 9,311 hectares is part of Kaweweta army barracks in Ngoma, Nakaseke district
PIC: Catherine Bamugemereire, the Justice of the Court of Appeal
LAND | PROBE
KAMPALA - The land probe commission has unearthed a ploy by a Buganda co-operative union to defraud the Government sh3.8b in double payment for army land in Kaweweta.
On Friday, the mischief was laid bare during the public hearing conducted at the Archives and Records Centre in the city suburb of Nakasero.
The land measuring 9,311 hectares is part of Kaweweta army barracks in Ngoma, Nakaseke district.
Ben Turyasingura, the former principal state attorney in Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, narrated the extent of the ploy.
How army acquired land
Guided by the assistant lead counsel, John Bosco Suuza, Turyasingura told the probe chaired by Court of Appeal that in 1993, the Government struck a deal with East Mengo Growers' Co-operative Union Limited (EMGCUL).
At the time, the army took control of the land, which prompted the co-operative union to file a civil suit at the High Court in Kampala.
Subsequently, court directed government's chief legal advisor Attorney General(AG) to file a defence. However, the AG did not file a case.
On February 24, 1993, a consent judgement was reached and the Government agreed to pay sh400m as compensation.
Later in 2014, government tasked a team to curve part of the land for an economic free zone. Turyasingura said he was part of the team that also comprised officials from Uganda Land Commission, Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs.
However, it later emerged that the certificate of title had vanished without a trace and it had never been transferred to the Government.
"Efforts to trace the land title hit a dead end," stated Turyasingura, who retired from public service in 2016.
Probe team stunned by fraud
Suuza wondered why the co-operative union acquired a special certificate of title for the land, yet its claim ceased when the Government paid sh400m.
Turyasingura replied that there could have been a ploy by some government officials and EMGCUL to defraud the Government.
The probe has a letter from EMGCUL lawyers Buwule and Mayiga Advocates, dated March 7, 2016 and another dated May 2, 2016, addressed to the Finance ministry.
In the letters, the co-operative union admitted that there was as confusion, and acknowledged it had received compensation.
But EMGCUL demanded sh3.8b, claiming it lost livestock when the army took the land, yet this was never part of the terms in the deal struck in the consent judgement.
When Justice Catherine Bamugemereire asked Turyasingura the implication of the sh3.8b demand, he responded that that the co-operative union was blackmailing the Government.
Commissioners are Dr Rose Nakayi, Robert Ssebunya, Mary Oduka Ochan, Joyce Gunze Habaasa, Frederick Ruhindi and George Bagonza Tinkamanyire.
Lead counsel is Ebert Byenkya. Judiciary deputy registrar of planning and development , Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya, heads the secretariat.
The commission's mandate is to probe the efficiency of the laws, policies and processes of land registration, acquisition, administration and management.
It is also tasked with inquiring the effectiveness of the Uganda Land Commission in administering public land and relevant bodies in the reservation of wetlands, forests, road reserves and national parks.