In a Ugandan society, land defines people’s lives and dignity for the present and future. This makes land a culturally and politically sensitive issue that needs to be handled with care.
Res Ipsa Loquitur, it is now a peculiar fact that one of the biggest cancers affecting Uganda today is the vice of land grabbing. I want to authoritatively state that this has been fully re-enforced by the fact that in many instances, land grabbers have been let off the hook on mere technicalities in land-related cases.
This happens when facts relating to a land case is ignored and instead the matter is decided on the basis of, for instance, a mistake of a lawyer or case being filed out of time.
But the question is, to what expense should we abort justice and what effects do such decisions have on society, especially in regard to justice?
Does the common man find it rational that a land dispute has been decided in a certain way because the case was filed out of time, or by the fact that the lawyer for the plaintiff mistakenly spelt the name of his client?
I may add that the evasion of justice is fuelled by corruption and bribery as was correctly noted by President Museveni in an article in the Daily Monitor of Monday, February 1.
Similarly, it is also vital to note that corruption has been fuelled by the fact that many of the land grabbers use the names of top government officials, which makes many government institutions toothless and more susceptible to accepting bribes in return to abortion of justice and destruction of evidence.
This ploy has also killed investigations, facilitated land grabbing, helped influence court decisions and has created a perception that it is government officials who are grabbing people’s land.
This is a problem I have highlighted on various occasions that I believe deserves to be ironed out.
In the Daily Monitor of Friday, June 8, 2018, the then IGG Irene Mulyagonja, asserted that most government officials use their connections to the head of State to defeat or escape justice.
But needless to add, it is not only government officials, but also unscrupulous individuals that have mastered the art in derailing justice through using the modus operandi to derail investigations with the aim of defeating court processes.
Prof George Kanyeihamba, wrote an article titled, ‘Why aren’t criminals flushed out, named and punished’ in the Daily Monitor of April 15, 2018, where he stated: “As a country, we have become a play field for serious offenders.”
This fact stands unrefuted as was uncovered when the President appointed the Commission of Inquiry on Land matters that was later overwhelmed by the number of cases most of which were unreported and involved many of our so-called investors turned untouchables.
This was a typical reflection of the gravity of the land quagmire in the present day Uganda and it helped expose the perceptions within the populace pertaining land justice in Uganda. It has now become more evident that many Ugandans believe that they cannot obtain land justice in Uganda.
I, therefore, propose that government takes a keen interest in this issue and it should come out clean and disassociate itself with such unscrupulous individuals, carryout investigations, ensure their prosecution and sort out the mess already created as this will help restore sanity in Uganda’s land sector as well as take Uganda away from the path of self-destruction.
I also encourage the Judiciary to ensure resolution of land cases on their merits as this will help restore justice and build judicial propriety.
An injustice to anybody is an injustice to everybody. It is high time we sit together and find an amicable solution to the escalating land crisis in the country.
Patrick Gukiina Musoke,