Another city school loses land to investor

Tuesday February 26 2013

A man trains on the disputed Nakasero Primary School playgrounds yesterday. PHOTO BY Faiswal Kasirye.

A man trains on the disputed Nakasero Primary School playgrounds yesterday. PHOTO BY Faiswal Kasirye. 

By Patience Ahimbisibwe

KAMPALA

The Inspector General of Government is investigating fraud in a suspicious transaction in which property developers took over prime city land belonging to Nakasero Primary School in the heart of the city.

Launched last year, the investigation followed a complaint to the IGG that officials in the Uganda Land Commission and a developer identified as Prestigious Apartments Limited had “colluded to fraudulently acquire” the school’s playground.

No fraud has so far been proven and no official has been charged over the matter yet. However, investigations by this newspaper reveal a fight between officials of the Ministry of Education and those in the Uganda Land Commission over the suspicious transaction.

Officials from ULC and the then Kampala City Council gave the developer permission to take over the land and processed a title in their favour without consulting the school and on the basis of a letter of “no-objection” from the Ministry of Education that permanent secretary Francis Xavier Lubanga later disowned.

Warning
Almost a year after the developers were hurriedly given a title to the 0.657-hectare piece of prime land, Mr Lubanga wrote to Joash Mayanja Nkangi, the chairman Uganda Land Commission, warning that the ULC was promoting fraud.

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He noted: “The ‘developers’ forged documents and purported to have received a ‘no-objection’ from my office whereas not. Let me put it on record once again that no ‘no-objection’ has ever been issued by my office. The fraudsters you are dealing with are candidates for prosecution. Do not rope my office into this fraudulent transaction.”
This has left schools without space for expansion or forced the relocation of schools away from convenient parts of the city.

Under the law the land is held in public trust through the ULC. The school administrators and the Education ministry, in case of land allocated to institutions of learning, must sanction any sale or development.

Mr Lubanga distanced himself from the transaction and called for the cancellation of the title. “I do not want to be part of this fraud and felony,” Mr Lubanga wrote to Mr Nkangi. “I urge you, and the law requires you, to cancel/rescind the lease offered to ‘Prestigious Apartments Ltd.” If there are any fetters on ULC, give the developer another plot elsewhere or compensate them but for goodness sake, cancel this fraudulent deal and restitute the property to Nakasero Primary School.”

Ms Ann Galiwango, the KCCA education director, earlier said most of their schools were sitting on ULC’s land and that it was incumbent on the owners to decide what they wanted to use it for.

ULC land
“Most of our schools are on ULC land. There are instances when they have given out land and we have objected,” Ms Galiwangu said declining to give details. Ms Ali Munira, the IGG spokesperson, yesterday said she would confirm today whether the matter was before their office. “I will confirm to you first thing in the morning as by the time this came in was not able to establish now,” Ms Munira said. Mr Mayanja referred this paper to the principal lands officer, Mr Paul Idude.

pahimbisibwe@ug.nationmedia.com

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