Thursday March 15 2018

Drama as officials shield CDF from media in land probe

Gen David Muhoozi

Gen David Muhoozi 


Kampala- There was drama after the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen David Muhoozi, evaded interviews after testifying in camera before the commission of inquiry into land matters in regard to complaints against army officials involved in land grabbing.

Drama ensued when police officers and officials attached to the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led commission as well as army officers, started chasing away journalists who had waited for hours to interview Gen Muhoozi.

Gen Muhoozi appeared before the commission sitting at the National Record and Archives Centre at Wandegeya in Kampala for the second time in regard to land woes involving the UPDF officers and its personnel.

The deputy secretary of the commission, Dr Douglas Singiza, jointly with the police officers pushed away the journalists until an alternative route was sought to have the CDF board his official car from the basement where they blocked the media personnel.

Evidence presented before the commission shows that senior army officers in collusion with officials in the Office of the Prime Minister are accused of illegally acquiring proprietorship of refugee land at Kyaka I in Kyegegwa District and Kyangwali Settlement Camp in Hoima District.

When contacted, the commission lead counsel, Mr Ebert Byenkya, said the army commander was providing information on the security situation in Kasese between Bakonzo and Bansongora over issues to do with land at Nkoko Village.
In regard to complaints by journalists, Mr Byenkya said: “I did not know. I will inquire from deputy secretary and discuss with him.”
After the first appearance before the commission last month, Gen Muhoozi admitted there are incidents of land grabbing involving UPDF officers, saying the army does not cover up for them.

He said the army usually takes action including telling the people involved to seek redress from appropriate authorities.
He said errant officers who are involved in land wrangles will face disciplinary action from the army.

In a separate session, the Commission quizzed the chairman of Kampala District Land board, Mr Yusuf Nsibambi, in regard to the alleged fraudulent allocation of 28 plots of land at lower Mbuya belonging to the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Nsibambi told the commission that the land was allocated in 2005 and 2006 before he assumed the office but out of the 28 files, he only managed to access four.

Among the four applicants including Mr James Barigye and Mr Stephen Byaruhanga and two other unidentified persons, Mr Nsibambi revealed that all applications were made on the same day and that they did not follow the legal procedures of acquiring public land.

“Yes, the land at Mbuya was allocated without proper due diligence but with approval by senior government officials including former State minister for Defence Mr Ruth Nankabirwa, Gen Kahinda Otafiire,” Mr Nsibambi said.
The land Commission is investigating into the law, processes and procedures in land acquisition, land administration and management in the country.