BUIKWE. The controversy surrounding the land giveaway at Njeru Stock Farm in Buikwe District has taken a new twist, with Njeru Municipality authorities saying they are demanding Shs1.3b in unpaid nominal ground rent from government, Daily Monitor has established.
According to a letter dated January 2, 2019, to the Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, signed by the Njeru Municipality Town Clerk, Mr Ambrose Ocen, Njeru Stock Farm has not been remitting ground rent fees for 19 years.
“This is to submit invoice number 631 dated January 2, 2019, in respect of Njeru Stock Farm for the last 19 years in line with the guidance from the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Treasury in his Circular No.ISS255/432/01 dated March, 25 2015,” the letter reads, in part.
When contacted on Monday, Mr Ocen, confirmed writing the letter, saying since 2000, Njeru Stock Farm management has not paid nominal ground rent equivalent to Shs100,000 per acre for 706 acres.
“…the terms of the sub-lease were that they [Njeru Stock Farm] would be paying Shs100,000 per acre of land per annum as nominal ground rent, unfortunately, government stopped paying that money in 2000, and the money has accumulated to Shs1.3b,” Mr Ocen said.
This comes on the heels of reports that some chunk of land housing the government demonstration farm has been parcelled out to different individuals, including Justice Minister, Kahinda Otafiire.
Njeru Stock Farm, located at Bukaaya West Village, is one of the government farms under the National Animal Genetics Resources Centre & Data Bank ((NAGRC & DB). It hosts a dairy model farm.
However, Dr Wilberforce Kifudde Wandera, the technical manager from the Genetics Resources Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the money being demanded by Njeru Municipal Council as ground rent had been inflated.
“It is true Njeru Municipal Council wrote to us, but it’s not true that they demand all that money, they have inflated the figure to defraud government because they claim money of 1950s during the colonial time,” he said, adding “the remaining piece of land is even less because they [Njeru Municipal Council] also sub leased more land to private developers, who acquired it through fraudulent means,” he said.
He also said Njeru Stock Farm has a land tittle and wondered where individuals who claim to possess titles got them from.
Last year, the Justice Catherine Bamugemeire-led Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters started investigating how private individuals acquired land on the government stock farm.
Ownership of the same land is currently being contested between Ham Mukasa’s family and the family of the late Enock Sebowa.
Ham Mukasa reportedly leased Njeru Stock Farm land measuring 1,099 acres to the colonial government for 99 years.
Prior to 2000, government was paying nominal ground rent to Ham Mukasa’s family through Njeru Town Council, which has since been elevated to a municipality.
When contacted, Gen Kahinda Otafiire insisted that he lawfully acquired 50 acres on Plot 280 and another 50 acres on Plot 283 off the Njeru Stock Farm land.
Last September, NAGRC & DB executive director, Dr Charles Lagu, told the Bamugemereire Commission that Njeru Stock Farm was on the brink of losing 504 acres to encroachers. He said the stock farm was only left with 562 acres.
Investigations done by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) in 2014 revealed that although Njeru Town Council got a lease on the land in 1967, including plots 2,3,4 &5, the same town council, in 1969, sub-leased 306 acres to the Ministry of Agriculture [Njeru Stock Farm] out of Plot 2,3,4 & 5 for livestock purposes.