Court gives govt ultimatum to file evidence in UPDF land case

Court has given the Attorney General (AG) up to October 2 to file evidence in a case involving the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) that is accused of grabbing land in Katabi, Entebbe.
 Last Friday, the deputy registrar of Land Division of the High Court, Ms Janeva Natukunda, ordered the AG to file the witness statements, adding that failure to do so would force her to send the file to the judge for hearing without the UPDF defence.

 The court gave  government one more chance to file its defence after the State Attorney, Mr Johnson Natuhwera, said the witnesses were away on a mission in Somalia.
 Mr Natuhwera was appearing in the case in which city businessman, Frank Matovu, sued the government accusing UPDF soldiers of occupying and denying him access to his land at Katabi, Entebbe in Wakiso District.
 Mr Matovu is seeking an order that the UPDF soldiers vacate his land.  Through his lawyers, Mr Matovu claims that he is the owner of four plots he purchased from four people in January.

 He alleged that in March, the UPDF soldiers trespassed onto his land and fenced off part of it.
 “The UPDF soldiers who are agents of the defendant (AG) while in the course of their employment have since denied the plaintiff (Matovu) access to the suit land and that all attempts by the plaintiff to remove the defendant’s agents on the suit land have proved futile,” reads the complaint.
 Mr Matovu contends that the soldiers have no right over the land, adding that occupying the land illegally amounts to fraud. 
 He alleges that failure of the soldiers to exercise due diligence in ascertaining the true owner of the land before occupying it and connivance with the area local authorities to deny him access, amounts to fraud.
Mr Matovu is also seeking a court declaration that the UPDF soldiers are trespassers and a permanent injunction restraining the government and its agents from trespassing.

However, in his defence, the AG states that the land in dispute was used as a political school when the UPDF occupied it.
 “…the defendant shall aver and contend that Wakiso District Land Board did not have the jurisdiction to allocated the land to different individuals and the plaintiff (complainant) shall be put on strict proof of how the certificate of title was acquired,” the AG states.

 The AG adds that  Mr Matovu has never been in occupation of the said land but admitted that the soldiers partly fenced the land to safeguard it from encroachers.
 He states that the army has been in occupation of the land since 1986 and even when they left to fight insurgents in the early 1990s, their uniports remained which was a clear sign that the land was not available for acquisition by any person.