Saturday August 23 2014

General Tumwine sued over Shs4b land sale

Gen Elly Tumwine, the former Chief of Defence

Gen Elly Tumwine, the former Chief of Defence Forces. Monitor photo 


Former Army Commander, Gen Elly Tumwine, has been sued jointly with grain milling and processing company, Engano Millers Limited, the Commissioner Land Registration and 13 others for the alleged fraudulent sale of 778 hectares of land at Shs4.3 billion in Kibanda County, Kiryandongo District.

Court documents this newspaper has seen indicate the retired senior army officer is accused of conniving with a one Mr Suleimani Kangume – one of the children of the registered proprietor of the land, the late John Karegyeya - and some officials in the lands office to make false and fraudulent claims on the issuance on the title of the said land.

The land title was transferred into Mr Kangume’s name to facilitate the sale.
It is alleged the late Karegyeya, the father to three complainants, Mr Benon Rwigyera, Mr Wilson Tugume and Mr Sam Kushaba, had obtained the lease title for the land in his personal names but for joint and several interests of the entire family and also some squatters.

In the case before the High Court in Masindi District, the plaintifs are seeking an order nullifying the sale agreement and a permanent injunction barring the company from trespassing on their land.

The document names Gen Tumwine and other accused persons; Mr Stephen Rutuku, Mr Moses Byabashaija, Mr Edward Nagaho, Mr James Gumisiriza, Mr Grace Kirabo, Mr Yosia Kakimanya, Mr Rasto Rubatemba, Mr Stephen Nkangira, Mr John Katwire, Mr Godfrey Karubira and Mr Alfred Kamendiho who were not beneficiaries to the estate and as such had no beneficial interest in the leasehold but fraudulently signed the sale agreement, purporting to sell their beneficial interest in it.

A sale agreement dated April 16, 2010, indicates that Mr Kangume sold 140 acres at Shs77 million, Gen Tumwine sold 640 acres at Shs352 million, Mr Rutuku sold 320 acres at Shs176 million while Mr Bataringaya, Mr Byabashaija, Mr Nagaho and Mr Gumisiriza each sold 160 acres at Shs88 million, among others.

“By a separate agreement executed on June 2010, family member, Mr Suleiman Kangume, Gen Tumwine and one Mr Patrick Bataringaya, without the prior knowledge or consent of or consultation with the plaintiffs as persons with interest in the land, colluded and purported to sale the same,” reads the court document.

However, in his defence dated May 16, Gen Tumwine, describing himself as an anti-corruption crusader, claims the allegations are false and are intended to infringe on the rights and freedoms of so many people who had a harmonious relationship.
“My role in this case is to represent the interests of my late uncle James Kakiro who was one of the three co-owners of the land in issue. Any member of the Kakiro family may be asked. The heir ,Mr James Kamuntu and his living sister and their mothers - who are still alive - are well settled,” reads Gen Tumwine’s defence.

He added the land was owned by three families who sold and signed jointly, openly, legally and happily.

According to the General, the late Karegyeya asked him to effectively occupy the land to protect it from some claimants and gave him powers of attorney to use the title and get a tractor for tilling on the land.
“…the beneficiaries of the remaining two families met and agreed that we should all seriously look for a buyer. Different buyers approached us. Some came through Mr Bataringaya, others through Mr Kangume. We eventually zeroed on Engano Millers Limited,” reads the defence.

Engano defence
In their defence, Engano Millers denies any wrong doing and asserts the land (778 hectares) was solely occupied by the late Karegyeya with no third party interests as it was declared in an application of lease.

“The 1st defendant (Engano Millers Limited) did not approach the plaintiffs to sell the land, but rather approached their father with whom they stayed and expressed its interest to buy the land and their intention to compensate him for any interest whatsoever he held in the land,” reads the court document.
Through their lawyers, Engano Millers alleges the complainants were aware of the sale but did not object to it.

“And in any case the plaintiffs’ father was being paid off as compensation for his interests in the land as a lawful occupant because he was not the registered proprietor,” they argued.
However, through their lawyers, the three family members are accusing the company of using under hand methods to acquire the land. Court before Justice Simon Byabakama is to hear the case on August 25.

THE numbers
The amount at which Gen Tumwine sold 640 acres.

Amount Mr Rutuku sold 320 acres.

Additional amount that Mr Bataringaya, Mr Byabashaija, Mr Nagaho and Mr Gumisiriza each sold 160 acres.

Amount Mr Kangume sold 140 acres.

The co-accused

Stephen Rutuku
Moses Byabashaija
Edward Nagaho
James Gumisiriza
Grace Kirabo
Yosia Kakimanya
Rasto Rubatemba
Stephen Nkangira
John Katwire
Godfrey Karubira
Alfred Kamendiho