Uproar after resident acquires Anglican Church land in Busoga

Part of the Church land given to Dr Charles Ivaibi, the Secretary Namutumba District Service Commission. PHOTO/RONALD SEEBE

Church of Uganda Central Busoga Diocese has come under scrutiny for allegedly irregularly allocating land along Namutumba-Bulange Road in Budongo village, Namutumba town council to private developers for constructing lockups.

Central Busoga Diocese comprises the districts of Iganga, Mayuge, Kaliro and Namutumba, and is headed by Rt Rev Bishop Patrick Wakula.

The head of laity at St Michael Church in Namutumba town council, Dr Fred Kasiisa, says his leadership and Christians are opposed to the allocation of land to Dr Charles Ivaibi and 80 other private developers.

Dr Ivaibi is the chairperson of Christian men in Namutumba Archdeaconry, and also doubles as the Secretary Namutumba District Service Commission.

Dr Kasiisa says the said land belongs to St Michael Church, not Central Busoga Diocese, adding that the allocation of land was done without following the right procedure and has reportedly frustrated their efforts to carry out Church projects.

“We are not against Dr Ivaibi and development, but we are against the wrong procedure followed to acquire the land because not even the Bishop or Diocesan Secretary have the right to give out St Michael Church land,” Dr Kasiisa said at the weekend.

He added: “It is not the Diocese’s responsibility to allocate land to private developers, but the leadership of St Michael Church; so, the Bishop made a mistake. But whoever wants to develop Church land should pursue that line.”

Plans to sell Church land started in early 2017, but the pronouncement to allocate land to private developers to construct lockups was made by Bishop Wakula at St Michael Church on May 23, 2021.

Daily Monitor has established that in 2017, the Diocesan Surveyor demarcated and allocated land measuring 200 by 200 feet to Dr Ivaibi for development, but he didn’t.

In his letter dated August 4, 2021, Rev Can Charles Wamukolo, then Central Busoga Diocesan Secretary, asked the Office of Namutumba Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and other security organs to halt what he termed the “forceful allocation of Church land to Mr Ivaibi”.

“. . . Consequently, he is not permitted to commence any development on the Church land before getting consent from the registered trustee of the Church of Uganda. Since he has forcefully entered Church land, this tantamounts to criminal trespass,” Rev Can Wamukolo’s letter reads in part.

However, since 2021, people have been securing plots of land allegedly with the help of Diocesan leaders, while other Church leaders say it is “unaware because they were not consulted”.

The chairperson Fathers’ Union at St Michael Church, who is also the Namutumba District Information Officer, Mr Noah Kiire, said that at time Rev Can Wamukolo wrote to the Namutumba RDC, Dr Ivaibi had already started clearing the said land to set up a fuel station.

But parents of the nearby Upper Primary School successfully petitioned then State Minister for Lands, Ms Persis Namuganza, protesting against the setting up a fuel station near their institution.

However, to their utter shock, Dr Ivaibi was allocated another plot of land measuring 100 by 50 feet along Namutumba-Kaiti Road, as referenced in his February 26, 2024 letter to the Bishop of Central Busoga Diocese, in which he sought intervention into trespass on the said land.

In his reply, the Central Busoga Diocesan Secretary, Rev Can Kemba, said their investigations discovered that not only Dr Ivaibi’s plot was trespassed on, but also that which was allocated to the Mothers’ Union to establish a skilling centre.

Rev Kemba further directs the Diocesan Lands and Estates Officer to evict all trespassers on Church land within Namutumba Archdeaconry with immediate effect, and allows Dr Ivaibi to develop the land that was allocated to him with immediate effect.

Asked if that is the official position of Central Busoga Diocese, Rev Can Kemba said “the issue of land allocation is a Diocesan matter”.

“I am not ready to discuss that issue with the media; whoever is opposing and is against that directive should go to court,” he added in a brief telephone interview.

While Dr Ivaibi has declined to comment further on this saga, Mr Kiire says he wonders why Bishop Wakula is “defending” the rights of people settling on Church land, and “ignoring” landlords who are Christians.

Mr Paul Wako, a member of St Michael Church leadership, said the issue of selling and giving out plots to construct lockups started during the Covid-19 pandemic, but added that they have never agreed to allocate Church land to Dr Ivaibi and other private developers.

“We are aware that St Micheal Church is governed by the Central Busoga Diocese, but because our land is vacant, it does not mean everyone is at liberty to use it as he or she wishes,” Mr Wako said.

He added that Central Busoga Diocese land is in Iganga, not Namutumba District, and therefore, Christians of St Michael Church and its leadership must be consulted and briefed on any development, but not the Diocese making decisions.

Ms Damalie Kawala, a Christian, said people should allow the rightful owners of the land to make decisions and agree on which projects suit to be on Church land.