Prisons boss ordered to explain land grab claims

Tuesday February 5 2019

Tasked. Johnson Byabashaija, Commissioner

Tasked. Johnson Byabashaija, Commissioner General of Prisons. 

By MUDANGHA KOLYANGHA

BUDAKA. The President has tasked the Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr Johnson Byabashaija, to explain allegations that Uganda Prisons Services (UPS) has grabbed 77 acres of land belonging to Budaka District.

A January 18 letter from the principal private secretary in the Office of the President addressed to Dr Byabashaija indicates that President Museveni received a petition from Budaka District chairperson Sam Mulomi, alleging that the prisons authorities grabbed the land.
“The purpose of this communication, is to request you to respond to the petition to enable us handle it appropriately. Timothy Nkonge, our ASP/Legal, will follow up the matter with your office,” the letter signed by Ms Flora Kiconco reads in part.

The district leaders allege that prison authorities last year fraudulently extended their boundaries by planting mark stones on the land using prisoners without involving surveyors, the district land board and other leaders. Mr Mulomi told Daily Monitor that as a district, they are happy that the President has responded to their request to stop the prison authorities from grabbing their land.
The land in question hosts Budaka Town Council offices, the Judiciary, National Water and Sewerage Cooperation, a market and Bugwere cultural institution offices.

Budaka Town Clerk Yusuf Mugombe welcomed the intervention and said it will save them from the looming eviction.
“The prison officers never respected our decision because we had as council resolved that any survey in the town council by any organisation or individual should be done in the right process,” Mr Mugombe said.
“We have to be informed so that the physical planner can guide the exercise basing on approved structured plans of Budaka Town Council,” he added.

Prisons speak out
All attempts to speak to the officer-in-charge of Budaka prisons, Mr Gerald Geeri, were futile as he never answered our repeated calls.
But the Uganda Prisons spokesperson, Mr Frank Baine, said they have not yet received the letter.
“Such allegations are baseless and for the letter, we have not received it yet,” he said.
However, some prisons officers, who preferred anonymity in order to speak freely, maintained that the disputed land belongs to the correctional facility.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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