Lands, Housing and Urban Development minister, Betty Amongi has ordered the cancellation of a land title on plot 139 of Block 2 in Ngenge Sub-County, Kween District saying it was fraudulently acquired.
The said land measures 2500 hectares and is co-owned by Kween Member of Parliament, Lawrence Cherop Mongusho, Kapchorwa District Land Board Chairperson Saul Diisi and a one Ndiema Kwemboi.
The title was issued in 2013 to the said three people as a block on behalf of close to 25 land owners on said land.
“I find that there is a problem with the title and therefore order cancellations of the land title of block 2 plot 139 because it did not follow lawful procedure,” Ms Amongi said on Monday.
“ My work is to work within the law,” she added. The decision to cancel the land title came after interrogating the former area land committee chairperson, Paul Labu who failed to proof that he followed the right procedure in issuing the land title. He didn’t have knowledge of the number of owners on the land which his committee cleared for titling.
Many other residents accuse the three (Lawrence Cherop Mongusho, Saul Diisi and Ndiema Kwemboi) of grabbing their land.
The disgruntled land owners petitioned the lands ministry on September 9 for intervention when they realised that the land was in the hands of a few people who were planning to lease.
They were led by Siraji Chebet, Yasin Nakiwiko, John Kamakong, Shaib Chemaket and Abdella Chemusto who accused Mr Edson Micheal Namara, the Elgon Area staff surveyor for issuing survey instructions unlawfully. They asked the minister to visit the disputed area for facts finding mission.
This led to public meeting attended by representatives from the President’s office, local, religious and opinion leaders and Kween Mps where Ms Amongi took leaders through different sections of the Land Act and argued that the Area Land Committee compromised in the whole process and neglected the law therefore rendering the title null and void.
She also differed with the title holders on acting on behalf of 25customary land owners yet the three owners have equal shares of land according to the title.
“The law doesn’t tell me that three people can own a title on behalf of many people. 25 people cannot entrust 3people with their land,” Ms Amongi said referring to Section 9 and 27.
She says that the surveyors didn’t involve other land owners and neighbors in the final mapping process and that the said people did not proof how much land they own in the titled plot.
“If you (Ndiema) could specify how much land you own, then I would have offered you a solution,” she said.
The minister asked her surveyors to take over surveys on the contested land and follow the right procedure for the good of those who may not have finances to facilitate the surveying process.
Mr Lawrence Cherop Mongusho said that he is a victim of circumstance.
“I acquired the land through Ndiema as a buyer to facilitate the title process. I never expected this. The law must be followed and we shall go back to the drawing board,” Said Mongusho adding that he is willing to pull out of the land and Ndiema sees how to refund his money.
The meeting revealed that there are many contested titles in Ngenge to Kiriki sub-counties after several related petitions were handed over to her. Leaders ask that all the titles be scrutinized for a lasting solution.