Land Fraudsters Manipulating Courts, Says Igg

Land fraudsters manipulating courts, says igg
Appeared in The New Visionon 25 Jul 2017

KAMPALA - The Inspector General of Government, Irene Mulyagonja has told the commission of inquiry into land matters that suspected fraudsters are taking advantage of the courts of law to stop prosecutions against them.

She was testifying before the commission on Monday, when it resumed hearings after a two-week technical break.

Mulyagonja cited one of the suspects she took to the Anti-Corruption Court for prosecution over fraudulent acquisition of land belonging to the departed Asians.

Last year, the IGG took Moses Kalisa Kalangwa, the Kayunga district NRM chairperson, to court over allegations of fraudulent transfer of land, abuse of office, forgery and impersonation.

Kalangwa was charged together with Sam Male, the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) executive secretary; Shafi Murisho, chairperson of area land committee, Jinja central; Godfrey Kironde and Abedi Sowali, members of the land committee and Edward Nnume, secretary of Jinja Land Board.

It was alleged that they conspired, abused their offices and forged documents to defraud an Asian company, TSMP, of land located on Plot 24, Spire Road, Jinja municipality.

The fraud was allegedly committed between 2014 and 2015.

The IGG claimed that that although the land was repossessed, Male and Nnume fraudulently facilitated and recommended the grant of a freehold title to a one Nantambala which was being used by Kalangwa to fraudulently procure the registration of freehold interest in the land, pretending that he was the current occupant of the land and that the lease had expired.

The land was under the DAPCB, before it was repossessed by TSMP. The DAPCB was the body which was set up to manage property left by Asians following their expulsion from the country in 1972.

Mulyagonja said that Kalangwa allegedly also uttered a false application letter, purportedly authored by Nantambala to Male, for the allocation of the property. The application was allegedly recommended by Murisho, Kironde and Sowali.

However, the court dismissed the prosecution and investigation of the case when Jinja High Court issued an injunction stopping the trial on grounds that there was a civil matter filed earlier in regards to the matter.

The IGG told the commission that this was just a ploy cultivated by the suspects to defeat justice.

“We have seen fraud, forgery and impersonation in this case and have taken it to court. We suspect that actually there is no Nantambala but prosecution has been stopped by a civil court in Jinja telling us not to prosecute and investigate anymore.

"There is also a constitutional petition to stop us because they are alleging that when we stated our investigations there was a civil matter, which isn’t true,” she said.

This revelation shocked justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the chairperson of the commission, who pointed out that it was unlawful for a civil court to stop a criminal trial because as per the law, criminal proceedings take precedence over civil proceedings.

Mulyagonja noted that though the law is in existence, the civil courts do not heed them, hence hampering their work.

She also revealed that in most cases when they make orders after an investigation in a land matter, the orders are not respected by those who are supposed to implement them.

She said this was the case when they handled investigations where Simpson Birungi, a director of Birus Property Services, was accused of conniving with Uganda Land Commission to fraudulently obtaining land located at plot 60/62 at Jinja Municipality, belonging to government.

Birungi, who is also the proprietor of Movit Products, is currently wanted by the commission of inquiry to answer on the accusations labeled against him by the tenants that were occupying the house on the land which he allegedly razed reportedly in connivance with the police and district leaders.

“Our orders as IGG in respect of land are not respected and I feel this commission should find a way of ensuring that when the appropriate body makes orders, those that are responsible should come in and help us implement the orders.

"But for us to make orders then police superintends over a demolition, makes people doubt that government can do anything straight,” said the IGG.

“For a long time we did not entertain investigations because everybody takes our orders as a joke. This whole question of land is too big for us as an inspectorate. You should find out where the whole problem is."

Mulyagonja revealed that they are currently carrying out investigations on disposal of property belonging to schools but in most of their findings, government officials are colluding with private developers to give out titles to private individuals over land that is supposed to be used for government activities.

Birungi, who was expected to defend himself before the commission, did not appear. It is alleged that he is in the Kenyan capital Nairobi for business.