Lawyers are not to blame for the Lubowa land impasse

Monday June 24 2019

Peter Mulira

Peter Mulira 

By Peter Mulira

Recently, a leading politician claimed that lawyers were frustrating government’s plans to build an international hospital at Lubowa near Kampala. This claim calls for an answer.
Like all other land problems, the frustration of work on the hospital is due to the separation of land administration into three independent departments namely land registration, land administration and survey and mapping departments, each with its own commissioner.
To make matters worse, the commissioner for land registration doubled as the commissioner for land administration. This led to the perception that the commissioner for land registration was the overall boss on land matters.

For example, although the department of survey and mapping is supposed to house microfilms on which all mailo land records are captured, the commissioner for land registration demanded that custody of the microfilms be transferred to her custody and the commissioner for survey and mapping complied under a memo dated May 16, 2014.
This centralisation of government work on land matters through manipulation led to an unprecedented frauds involving mailo land, which has not been transferred from the MRV register to the Block and Plot system.

The problems regarding Lubowa Estate land represent but a tip of the iceberg. Unless the government comes down heavily on people who have desecrated our land system, innocent people will continue to suffer, including banks which take fraudulent title deeds as security for loans.
Frauds take three common forms, namely conversion of mailo land into public land (Freehold), alteration of records, unauthorised subdivisions of land without the consent of the commissioner for survey as required by law and hiding files. All this has happened in the case of Lubowa.

According to Cadastral “Cartridge” Map sheets kept by the Department of Survey and Mapping and Microfilm records, Prince Yusuf Suuna Kiwewa became registered proprietor of land comprised in the present Block 265 and 269 on June 6, 1906 pursuant to Final Certificate (F.C) number 18570.
The land, which measures 6 square miles 592.27 (4432.27 acres) is located at Bunamwaya, Lweza, Lubowa, Naziba, Nakukuba, Mutungo.
In 1958, Uganda Company Ltd, a company incorporated in the United Kingdom, obtained a freehold title deed as to 1834 by using Suuna’s instrument number. We have evidence that this was fraudulent for a number of reasons.

In 1968, the registrar of titles wrote to Uganda Company Ltd advising that this land was mailo land over which a freehold title could not be issued. Secondly, the title deed shows that the land was transferred from the Registered Trustees of Rubaga Archdiocese on May 19, 1969. However, Rubaga Archdiocese ceased to exist in 1967 and was replaced by Kampala Diocese.
The freehold title issued to Uganda Company had this condition endorsed on it “Subject to reservations and conditions implied under the Crown Lands Ordinance and Rules made thereunder…..” Section 10 of the Crown Land Ordinance provided that “No lease of Crown land shall exceed 99 years.”

To avoid this restriction, on September 8, 1983, the Land office issued a special certificate of title which left out the restriction.
Mitchell Cotts became manager of Uganda Company in April 1967, but left in 1973 upon expulsion of expatriates by the military regime. The company returned after the fall of the military regime and was issued with a certificate of repossession number 0412 dated December 1, 1987 although it was not the owner.
On May 21, 2013 the land office transferred 1814.496 acres to Mitchell Cotts Uganda although the transfer filed sought to transfer only 85.78 acres.
It is not the lawyers who are responsible for the Lubowa land impasse. Officials at land office are culpable.
Mr Mulira is a lawyer.
[email protected]