Court exonerates Mukono church over fraudulent land occupancy

Church members gather before the church in Mukono City to celebrate their court victory on March 27,2023. PHOTO/DIPHAS KIGULI

The Mukono High Court has acquitted a Born Again Church which has been embroiled in a controversial land wrangle in Mukono Town for more than 10 years. 

In his ruling on Monday Justice David Batema, noted that the contested piece of land belongs to Lawrence Matovu who obtained it after cancellation of a lease between the United Methodist Church and the then landlord Robert Ssenfuma.

On December 31, 2021, Mt Lebanon Christian Centre Church Limited and Matovu ran to court contesting a decision by the United Methodists Church to demolish and evict the former. 

“The suit property was a church that first belonged to the United Methodist Church of Uganda.

The Church was built on leased land owned by Robert Ssenfuma. Samuel Lwandasa who was one of the pastors of the United Methodist Church broke away and formed a new church called Mt Lebanon Christian Centre which operated on the same leased property,” the ruling reads in part.

According to records before court the United Methodist Church Ltd sued Lwandasa as an individual for obtaining a fraudulent special title over their land.

“While the two tenant churches battled in court, Ssenfuma the landlord terminated the lease of the United Methodist Church and gave Mt. Lebanon Church a lease of 10 years and later Ssentuma sold the suit land to Lawrence Matovu, the second objector,” the ruling further reads.

The suit land is comprised in Block 530 Kyaggwe, Plot 13, Kame close. The ruling discloses that the applicants (Mt. Lebanon and Lawrence Matovu) were not party to the civil suit and its appeal and therefore the application has been granted with costs to the objectors in the interest of justice.

Mr Stephen Ssemusu, the chairperson of Born Again Pastors under their umbrella Love, Peace and Unity Pastor’s Destiny Forum, urged the Judiciary to ensure land disputes brought in court are disposed of in record time to avoid fights which sometimes led to shedding blood.

“Secondly, faith based leaders should unite to form a formidable force against persecutions from intruders,” he added. 

The Chairperson of Ggunga Village, Harriet Nankya Kasozi said: “These people [Mt. Lebanon Christian Centre Church Ltd and United Methodist Church] have spent more than 10 years in different courts and such scenarios in our communities cause panic and tension. I hope this time round one party will concede defeat and move on.”

The disputed land is located in Mukono Municipality at Kame near Kame valley market.

The United Methodist Church was opened in 2010 by President Museveni. The Church acts as the centre for over 40 churches in districts of Mukono, Kayunga, Buikwe and Buvuma. 

In 2009, the Church sued Mt. Lebanon Senior Pastor Samuel Lwandasa accusing him of fraudulently acquiring the land where he constructed the church and his house.  

The High Court ruled in favour of the Methodist Church and ordered the cancellation of the titles that were given to Lwandasa. The court also ordered Lwandasa to vacate the land.