Land probe: Museveni gives 2 months for report

Sunday November 10 2019

Commission chairperson. Justice Catherine

Commission chairperson. Justice Catherine Bamugemereire 

By Tom Malaba

President Museveni has given a two-month ultimatum to the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters to write the final report making recommendations on how Uganda should move forward on the land question. Members of the Commission met President Museveni at State House Nakasero on Friday to seek his views on land matters.

Speaking to Sunday Monitor after the meeting, the Commission lead counsel, Mr Ebert Byenkya, said the team, that is led by the chairperson, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, informed the President that they were in the final stages of writing the report.

“He proposed an extension of two months to January 9. We anticipate this period will help us get the report done,” Mr Byenkya said.

The President also promised to put in writing his views on the land question that has bedeviled the country for long and submit them to the Commission.

“The President told us he had a lot of views on land and he said he was going to put them down and send them to us within the two months,” Mr Byenkya added.

Preparations
Mr Byenkya said the two months extension would give the Commission time to get done with the report.

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Before heading to State House, Justice Bamugemereire held a media conference at the end of her public hearings and gave a detailed account of achievement the Commission had made in the last 30 months, among which was halting irregular payments of more than Shs1 trillion.

“The Commission halted payment of Shs100 billion in respect of compensation for a rock at Isimba Hydro Power Project,” Justice Bamugemereire said.

She added that the Commission highlighted questionable circumstances surrounding these claims and halted the payments.

Payment of another Shs132 billion under questionable circumstances was also halted pending court action.

She revealed that during investigations, the Commission discovered and halted a Shs40 billion payout to holders of 160 land titles in Nakivubo, Kinawataka, Namanve and Nambigirwa wetlands, Mugomba Central Forest Reserve and Gunda Local Forest Reserve.

The Commission discovered numerous irregularities in payments from the Land Fund to a number of persons making claims on behalf of other applicants and in that regard stopped payment of Shs9.7 billion.

Since its inception, the Commission received 7,767 complaints with 50 per cent of them on land grabbing and evictions, corruption and fraudulent practices on land.

“These do not include the number of calls that came in daily, which come to tens of thousands. The Commission has held almost 600 public hearing,” Justice Bamugemereire said.

The Commission also intervened and stopped eviction by registered owners and brokers.

“The Commission has blown the horn about the scandalous inhumane and legally questionable evictions,” Justice Bamugemereire said.

It was also reported that the Commission resolved a number of cases through mediation.

“The Commission has successfully piloted and tested creative methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR),” she added.

Justice Bamugemereire added that the Commission work helped to increase public awareness on land matters, land rights, protection of wetland and forests.

In the last 30 months, the Commission exposed cases of double land titling where several persons hold titles over the same parcel of land.

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