Govt probes forgery claims in wrangle over 1,000-acre Wakiso land

Mathias Mulumba (left), one of the interested parties, addresses residents caught up in the land conflict in  Busamba, Namayumba Sub- County in Wakiso District in May. Photo/FILE 

What you need to know:

  • This comes after the original title resurfaced when two special titles had been created over the same land.

Government is investigating allegations of forgery and corruption in Wakiso District Land Office after it emerged that three titles were procured for a contested piece of land on claims that the original one was missing.

The new investigation by commissioner for land registration comes after some members of the late Gabudyeri Lubajja family, who owned the disputed land located in Busamba, Namayumba Sub-county, obtained the alleged original missing land title from Canada.

The mother title registered on August 29, 1988, is in the names of the late Edward Kinagomba Ssentamu Majwega who was the official administrator of the land comprised on Block 53, Plot 15, measuring 1,044.9 acres.

After the death of the official administrator, another rival group in the family comprising the grandchildren of Lubajja processed a special title registered in the names of Mr Richard Ssemitala and Eusterius Ssegantebuka. The duo and a section of family members have since sold part of the disputed land to Ms Berna Nakato.

The disputed land is occupied by more than 1,000 bibanja holders who have settled on it for decades. The disputed land covers Busamba-Kinyika, Kanziro-Gayaza, and Ngodwe villages in Namayumba Sub-county.

 Some of the family members have since petitioned court, challenging Mr Ssemitala and Ssegantebuka’s decision to sell the land to Ms Nakato. They are also challenging the circumstances under which a special title and another title were obtained on the same land for Ms Nakato. The two titles were procured from Wakiso land office.    

Under the law, anyone who lost the original land certificate of occupancy can apply for a special land title. However, some of the family members led by Mr Mathias Mulumba, who petitioned court, told Monitor that the original title has been accessible since 1988 and described as “lies” claims that it has been missing.

Speaking to Monitor on Monday, the Commissioner for Land Registration at the Ministry of Lands, Mr Baker Mugaino, vowed to cancel any fake title over the disputed land.
Mr Mugaino said no land can have more than one title and in situations where this is found, the ministry automatically cancels the wrong one.

The development comes after the two-family factions, one led by Mr Mulumba and another led by Mr Ssemitala presented an original and a special title, respectively. About 40 sub-titles have since been produced from the one that was presented by Mr Ssemitala and Mr Ssegantebuka after Ms Nakato bought 150 acres from them.

Commissioner Mugaino said they will investigate the matter and follow the law.
“No land must have more than one title; we shall scrutinise and see if the application of the special title was done lawfully after declaring the original one lost, then the original title will have to be cancelled and any other title,” he said.

Residents affected by the land wrangle petitioned Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba last year. Early this year, the minister stopped Ms Nakato’s activities on the disputed land and ordered the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) to investigate the matter.  However, SHACU has since sent their report to Ms Nabakooba without looking at the original title.

Mr Mulumba, who is backed by more than 1,000 residents, described the State House report as “biased” and asked the minister to disregard it in public interest.

When contacted, Ms Mariam Natasha Oduka, the SHACU spokesperson, said: “It is a lie for Mr Mulumba to say that we did not ask for his title, actually we did so and he did not give it to us. He is free to bring it to us because he was supposed to submit it to the investigators, which he didn’t and we were forced to act on only one title that was brought by the other faction.”

Several security meetings have been held over the land where affected residents are living in fear over looming eviction.

Caveats on the disputed land
Mr Mulumba yesterday said they have filed an amendment of the current court application to include Ms Nakato and 40 bibanja holders who shared their land with her. “We have already secured caveats on the 512 acres and as I speak, all the land has been caveated, no more activity or transaction can be done on it until the case is disposed of.  I want to assure residents that they should be strong, no need for panic everything is being handled,” he said. 

“We assembled all the evidence we need to defend our case and managed to retrieve the original title because it was with one of our brothers who has been staying in Canada; he returned here… These people (Ssemitala and Ssegantebuka), even after knowing that the original title still exists, went ahead and processed a special title after telling lies. They even got the letters of administration, which we challenged in court,” he added.

He appealed to President Museveni to intervene in the matter.
“We are asking the President to take interest in this matter and all bibanja holders on our land must not be intimidated. Those people are not genuine and the courts of law will have the final say on the matter….. The original land title exists and we have it in safe custody,” he said.   

Although Ms Nakato did not pick our repeated calls to comment on the new development, Mr Ssemitala, who sold her the land, said they are ready for the outcome of the land authorities.
 “If the Canada title is finally here, then let those ones who have it present it to Mr [Moses] Sekiito, [Ag principal registrar of lands] as they are the ones who verify which title is fake and which one is not. If you attended the meeting, we presented our title to the meeting openly and thus I don’t have anything more to say about that,” he said.

Two According to the surviving family members, the late Lubajja who hailed from Mbogo clan, had been blessed with 11 children. Nine of them are dead. Two of them; Hasfa Nankabira and Efransie Namayanja are still alive and it is from within these the battle emanated. 

Since the majority of the Lubajja’s children are dead, their offspring took their parent’s share, with the boundary drawing starting in December last year.

The entire problem arose when Ssemitala and Ssegantebuka hired Ms Nakato, a surveyor, to demarcate the land and in return pay her with 150 acres. Ms Nakato did the surveying and secured her land and also bought additional 50 acres from some family members, bringing her total share to 200 acres.

The duo also reportedly without consulting anyone processed the letters of administration for the entire property, which angered the Mulumba side, prompting them to run to court. 

Meanwhile, Ms Nakato reportedly started threatening the residents living on her portion of the land.
Lands minister Judith Nabakooba on December 20, 2022, sent a delegation led by Mr Moses Ssekitto, the acting principal registrar of land titles, who placed 34 caveats on a contested piece of land.

Despite these directives, Ms Nakato continued with both the boundary drawing and the surveying exercise. This illegal sharing was opposed by majority of residents which prompted them to petition the minister.

On May 21, Minister Nabakooba held a security meeting on the said land where residents voiced concerns of looming eviction.
Ms Nabakooba made numerous directives, including directing security personnel to arrest all muscular men allegedly hired by Ms Nyakato to intimidate the residents, conflicting sides to present their titles and State House Anti-corruption Unit to investigate any fraud. 

What residents say
Godfrey Mayere, one of the bibanja holders on the land:  “All along Mulumba’s side [one of the family members] has been telling us that they have the real title but we did not believe because the other ones had showed us theirs but last week the person who has been keeping it in Canada returned and they brought it to us. We want government to help us and cancel other titles because the same land cannot have two titles.”
Joachim Kibabu, another resident said: We are glad that the original land title is here this will help us stay on the land with ease because we had heard that some people are mooting plans to come and hold meetings here again. We heard that it was a junior (Mulumba) with the  real title and they had stopped us from paying Busulu (yearly fees), which scared us and fears rose up yet Nakato had started demarcating the land.”
Joseline Nambi, another affected resident: “I was born on this land, I married here. Both my parents and husband were buried here, since childhood I know here, why does Nakato want to grab my land? Where does she want me to go?”