KAMPALA- A senior official in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has been arrested for allegedly grabbing a 200-acre farmland in Kazinga Village, Rwentuha Sub-county in Kyegegwa District.
The Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters ordered the arrest and detention of Mr Charles Bafaki, the Principal Settlement Officer in the OPM after he was quizzed in regard to land grabbing, forceful evictions and destruction of property worth millions of shillings belonging to former Tooro Prime Minister, Mr Stephen Irumba.
It is alleged that in 2016 Mr Bafaki, and other senior officials of the OPM violently evicted Mr Irumba and destroyed his property purporting to settle Ugandans who had been expelled from Tanzania on the land after claiming that it was part of Kyaka I Refugee Settlement in Kyegegwa District.
“Mr Bafaki: I am handing you over to my officers and please do not call us. You are fond of calling us and make noise but we are not doing this to shame you. Go and make another statement,” Justice Catherine Bamugemereire who chairs the commission sitting at National Records and Archives Center in Kampala, ordered.
Mr Bafaki’s arrest was prompted after his failure to present evidence and respond to questions on how the disputed refugee camp was established.
He also failed to explain the boundaries of the camp.
Tasked to explain how the camp came into existence, Mr Bafaki presented contradictory letters written by his predecessors in regard to fundraising for the refugees while another letter was asking him to give statistics of refugees since 1950.
Evidence presented before the Commission shows that in 1994, the ministry of Disaster Preparedness questioned the size of Kyaka I settlement Camp after it realised that most of the land was not surveyed.
He admitted that there no survey has ever been made to establish the size of the land contrary to evidence presented by the acting Principal Senior Staff Surveyor in the Department of Surveys and Mapping in the Lands Ministry, Mr John Viany Lutaaya who has since been arrested over the same case for giving contradictory evidence.
Last week, Mr Lutaaya was handed over to Police detectives for further investigations regarding survey work and to make a fresh statement in regard to his motivations, interests and state the people he has been working with to deprive citizens of their land.
Mr Bafaki who has since been implicated in the eviction of more than 60,000 people from 28 villages in Kyangwali, Hoima District, is jointly accused with the Commissioner in Charge of Refugees Mr Martin Owor, in regard to the Kyaka I Camp land.
The duo is accused of causing suffering both physical and mental to indigenous people living near refugee camps in the country.
The Commission questioned whether Mr Owor and Mr Bafaki are the right persons to be in the offices they occupy.
He testified that Mr Owor and Mr Bafaki among others, used armed security personnel to evict him.
Mr Irumba said Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda intervened and promised to investigate the issue but later sent him an email informing him of an ongoing resettlement activity where residents including the District chairperson were contributing land and that he (Irumba) should contribute land to that effect.
“I was so mad because I did not understand what it meant by the government official to tell a private land owner as well as an investor to surrender part of his land to the settlement camp,” he said “I had 300 exotic cows, 200 cross breed cows and 200 goats. Most of them died due to the interference by encroachment and some suffered miscarriages,” he said.