Court halts works on contested UCU land

Friday February 14 2020

 

By EPHRAIM KASOZI

Court has halted any activity or sub-division of the land which is under dispute between Uganda Christian University (UCU) and private individuals in Ntawo Village in Mukono District.

Mukono High Court deputy Registrar Harriet Ssali Nalukwago issued the interim order stopping four claimants, Christopher Kiiza, Rose Najjuko, Marvin Kasirye and Brian Ahimbisibwe from conducting any activity on the land until the dispute has been resolved in court.

“It is hereby ordered that a restraining order doth issue against the respondents whether by themselves, representatives, servants, agents, and or assignees from harming and threatening violence against the applicant or its servants, evicting the applicants’ servants, forceful entry, cutting trees, demolishing house, trespassing onto and or in any manner whatsoever interferes with or otherwise dealing with the applicant’s property,” reads the court order.

Ms Nalukwago held that the restraint order shall be valid until February 18 when the court will hear an application for temporary injunction.

The court order followed an application by UCU Holdings Limited, the business arm of the university. The university sued the four people for alleged trespass and land grabbing.

The land in dispute is part of the church land measuring 649.2 acres under the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Holdings.

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Last week, a group of armed men occupied the land and attacked the university staff living there.
They also destroyed property on the land that hosts the university farm. Riot police intervened to disperse them, but substantial damage had been done.

Officials at UCU said the group brought building materials on Monday and started preparing the land for construction.

The UCU head of Skills Development at Ntawo, Dr Livingstone Mutyaba, yesterday said the claimants in violation of the court order started grading a road in the middle of the land.

“The people are acting with impunity and in disregard of the due process of the law. We have reported the matter again to police and statements have been recorded. We are waiting for a response,” Dr Mutyaba said, revealing that the court orders were served on the police and the office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC).

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango yesterday confirmed the university was granted the court order and said police would implement it.

“We have been helping the Church repossess its land and now the new order supersedes other previous orders. We are going to enforce it as soon as it is cleared by the Commandant of Land Protection Unit at Kibuli, who would instruct the Regional Police Commander, who in turn directs the DPC and the Officer-in-Charge,” Mr Onyango said in an interview.

Mr Onyango said police recorded statements of victims and different cases are being investigated.

Land feud

The dispute over ownership of the land at Ntawo has led to criminal acts including threatening violence against bishops in 2016, illegal acquisition of plots, inciting violence against the university and making false sale agreements on behalf of land holders.

On April 10, 2018, the then Church of Uganda Vice Chancellor, Rev Can Dr John Ssenyonyi, accused high ranking government officials and security personnel of grabbing the university land.

Rev Can Dr Ssenyonyi also accused a government agency, Mukono Agricultural Research Centre, of refusing to vacate the university land after expiry of its 49-year lease.

ekasozi@ug.nationmedia.com

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