24 February 2013

Uganda: Seventy Eight Year-Old Fights Hossana Over 188 Acres in Buloba

A 78-year-old woman is caught in a fight to reclaim a 188-acre piece of land in Buloba, Mityana district, from a much richer and stronger adversary, Hossana Real Estates.

The land row has also sucked in the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Lt Gen Kale Kayihura, who has ordered a wider investigation. The elderly Erivesta Nabwami is fighting on multiple fronts. She has filed a civil suit in the land division of the High court, through lawyer Benson Tusasirwe, while police is conducting a criminal investigation into the matter.

A senior police detective, Charles Kataratambi, who is leading the investigation, told The Observer: "Police believes the land was transferred irregularly and fraudulently by Hossana and should have remained with the daughters of [Nabwami] Erivesta."

A High court judge in the Lands division, Aweri Opio, has also issued an interim order blocking further activity on the land, which had already been parcelled out and advertised for sale. Each acre goes for Shs 42m.

"I am appealing to the authorities especially Kayihura to help me get back the land at least before I die." Nabwami told The Observer last week, when we visited her.

She has also given Sarah Kagonyera, powers of attorney in an attempt to reclaim her land.

The fight for the land dates back to 1959 when Bida Mazige, the owner, died. He was survived by two children; Erivesta Nabwami, who is the plaintiff and Aidah Namayanja. Mazige appointed his nephew, Sema Tenywa Musoke, as heir to the estate because he didn't have a son. Tenywa eventually passed on in 1966.

Later on, the administrator general applied and was granted letters of administration over the land because it had not been bequeathed to anybody and still remained part of the estate of the late Mazige. According to a letter from the administrator general's office, the then head of Mpindi clan to which the late Mazige belonged, wrote to Kabaka Edward Muteesa II on November 26, 1960 bequeathing the heir Tenywa, 411.3 acres.

However, there is no record to show that Tenywa took or accepted the land. Forty years after Tenywa's death, the administrator general's office registered the late Bida Mazige as the owner of the land. In the same year, there was a twist of events when the administrator general, hastily issued transfer forms of the land to Mpindi clansmen Kitenda and Mugalu.

But the two were later on deregistered when the administrator general discovered they had been accepted as beneficiaries fraudulently. The land reverted to the administrator general. According to an affidavit sworn by the then deputy administrator general, Miriam Namutebi, she unequivocally stated that the land belonged to the late Mazige.

But she belatedly made a U-turn claiming the land belongs to Tenywa Musoke. Namutebi declined to comment when contacted last week because, she said, the matter was before court. Tenywa's son, William Muluuta, later played a major role in the sale of the land to Hossana Real Estates. On January 31, 2011, Muluuta and seven relatives collectively entered a sale/purchase agreement with the 3rd defendant Hossana Real Estates Ltd.

Muluuta and his relatives purportedly claimed they had been given 188 acres by the administrator general out of the 411.3 acres belonging to Bida Mazige.

"It was improper and unlawful for Namutebi to give a title certificate from the estate of the late Mazige to Muluuta who was not a direct beneficiary.

It was equally ridiculous for the descendants of Tenywa to sign the transfer form in respect of the estate of the late Mazige as beneficiaries yet denying Mazige's biological children the privilege," Kagoyera wrote to the administrator general on February 6, 2013. Muluuta curiously claimed he is the son of the late Bida Mazige, disowning his father Tenywa.

On January 31, 2011, the eight relatives entered a sale/purchase with Hossana drawn by lawyer Mariam Mbabaali, who represented the Director of Hossana Real Estates, Emmanuel Kasumba. One of the purported signatories to the agreement, James Kitunguzi, claims he is a son of the late Tenywa. However, records show that Kitunguzi died many years ago.

"All these irregularities were not an oversight but deliberate concoctions in their quest to defraud," writes Kagonyera.

However, Mbabaali on Monday defended Hossana.

"We purchased the land legally but that lady given the powers of attorney and her partner are bafere [conmen] who think they can make money out of this deal," said Mbabaali.

She referred us to the lawyer who is currently handling the case in court, Simon Peter Kinobe. Kinobe insisted the firm rightly owned the land. He said Hossana had paid Nabwami much more than she deserved.

But Kagonyera wants criminal charges slapped on Hossana boss Kasumba, counsel Mbabaali, Muluuta and the former administrator general Namutebi.

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