8 February 2013

Uganda: Mulwana Loses Ochieng Land Case

Ordered to pay Shs 124m in rent arrears

The family of the late James Mulwana yesterday lost a prime piece of land in Kampala to the family of late politician Daudi Ochieng. The High court's Land division ruled that Mulwana obtained the land fraudulently. In a verdict delivered barely three weeks after the death of Mulwana, Justice Percy Night Tuhaise also ordered Mulwana's heir to pay all the rental dues from the said estate located in zone 12, Kitintale, in Nakawa division, for the last 10 years (about Shs 124m). The judge said Mulwana fraudulently acquired the land, about 0.151 hectares with buildings on it, and irregularly sold. The land, court said, belonged to Namuli Ochieng, wife of the late politician Ochieng.

"From the court findings, with the absence of the sale agreement and genuine transfer, there is no evidence that the first defendant [Mulwana] purchased land when, on how much and from whom. It is also my finding that the plaintiff [Namuli] has proven fraud against the second, third and fourth respondents," Justice Tuhaise ruled.

At the time of his death, Mulwana had vehemently denied Ms Ochieng's accusations. One of Ochieng's daughters, Linda Ochieng, wept after the ruling was read.

"Thank you my God, thank you my lord, you're the highest judge who has guided the presiding judge to reach a just decision which has taken us a decade battling. You're so wonderful and I promise to worship you even more in appreciation for your wisest guidance," said Linda, as she knelt before her elderly mother.

The judge found contradictions in Mulwana's alleged purchase of land; they included the purchase price, which at one time he said was Shs 15m and on another Shs 30m, and the vacant transfer forms, purported to have been signed by Namuli who was not in the country at the alleged time.

Apart from the costs imposed on the Mulwana family in favour of the Ochieng family, the latter will also pay the former all rental collections for the last ten years at Shs 1,040,000 per month. Court also ordered Namuli to repossess the land after the Registrar of titles registers the land title in her names again. Whereas Namuli's lawyer was jubilating with Ochieng family, a female lawyer who received the judgment on behalf of Mulwana family only said: "It is not over yet."


In June 2012, Mulwana had appeared in court to give his defence. Namuli, 61, dragged Mulwana to court, accusing him of illegally acquiring ownership of her land on Block 243, plot 786 in zone 12 Kitintale. Court was shown land transfer documents Namuli had allegedly signed transferring ownership of her land to Mulwana, but she denied ever signing any transfer document. She, however, said she signed a blank form when Mulwana gave her money to solve a personal problem.

"I was moving out of his office after he had given me the money when he called me back and gave me a certain form to sign. It was blank," Namuli told court in March. However, in his testimony last June, Mulwana accused Namuli, with whom he was friends for more than four decades, of dishonesty. He said Namuli asked him, in December 2002, to buy her land from Investment Masters Ltd, a moneylending company that was selling the property to recover Shs 30m she had borrowed and failed to repay.

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