Who is owner of Ndeeba church land?

Wednesday September 09 2020

By Peter Mulira

One does not have to be a land owner to be enraged by what is taking place in the land sector where land grabbers have taken the upper hand.
The country inherited a sound system of land administration based on three departments of government namely the survey and mapping, registration and land departments, which operated reasonably well up to 2010.
To find out whether a title deed was genuine, one had to start at the department of survey to establish whether the land was properly surveyed before searching the register.
Although the Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to access documents in public custody, searches by member of the public have been curtailed. The public is no longer allowed direct access to files at the Land Office. Instead, the registrars are the ones who “search” for you. This new procedure, which is illegal, has led to abuses and malpractices, including failure to follow the law. For instance, the destruction of the church in Ndeba would not have happened if the law had been adhered to.
According to one of the people who were present in the 1970s when the story of this church started, the relevant documents relating to the land at the Land Office went missing, including the title deed in the names of the original registered proprietor.
The land in question originally belonged to Kabaka Sir Daudi Chwa of Buganda. Since Daudi Chwa died in 1939 before the new registration system based on blocks and plots were introduced in 1958, his title deed must have been issued under the old MRV register.
Before a valid title deed could be issued after Chwa’s death, an application to bring his title on the new register was filed.
Section 29 of the Registration of Titles Act provides:
“Any person in whose name land is registered under the Registration of Land Titles Ordinance,1908, may make an application to the registrar to bring that land under this Act.”
Section 32 goes on to provide that “When land has been brought under this Act, the register kept under the Registration of Land Titles Ordinance, 1908, shall be closed so far as concerns that land………”
Alternatively if Sir Daudi Chwa’s land was still on Final Certificate then the title will be governed by section 7(3) of the Act, which provides “All land included in any final certificate whenever issued shall after the commencement of this Act, be subject to the operation of this Act……..”
Accordingly, any title deed issued in respect of the Ndeeba church land without following the above provisions, is null and void. The question to be answered is who is the owner of the Ndeeba church land?
Our investigation have revealed that when the Christians of Ndeeba decided to build a church, they sent their treasurer, Stanley Kigere and their head of laity to find out the owner of the land, which contains the official Kabaka’s luzzi (well). The official who looks after it is called Kalindaluzzi.
The office of Kalindaluzzi is hereditary and in the 1970s, it was held by Monsignor Sebayigga. Sebayigga led the church leaders to Princess Evelyn Nachwa, who inherited the land from her father.
Nachwa donated the land to the Christians for the purpose of building a church on it.
In a mistake committed at the Land Office, a special certificate was issued to Nachwa without making an application to bring the land on the new register.
The land, therefore, is still on the old register in the names of Sir Daudi Chwa and all the subsequent title deeds issued should, be cancelled to enable the law to take its course.

Mr Mulira is a lawyer.