9 October 2013

Uganda: Land Commissioner in Court Over Titles

A city Pastor, Deo Semakula, has sued the commissioner land registration, Sarah Kulata, for reportedly attempting to cancel his land title and have his land grabbed.

The deputy registrar High Court's land division on September 13 asked Kulata together with former Kawempe division chairman, Nasser Takuba and one Valentine Bayogera Kajungu to file their defence in the case.

Takuba claims to have bought the 7.16 acres of land on plot 59 block 107 at Nakyesanja-Kawanda in Wakiso district from Kajungu, a transaction Semakula says was fraudulent.

Kulata declined to comment but in an affidavit to court dated September 27, she maintained that Kajungu's title was genuine. In her report on the matter, Kulata said the irregularities on Kajungu's title were typographical errors.

According to documents, Semakula bought the 7.16 acres land from Tereza Mbirontono, who was the registered owner after she acquired letters of administration for land that originally belonged to her late son, Samuel Mukungu.

Semakula also secured a court order restraining Kulata, Takuba and Kajungu from interfering with the land that he is currently occupying. "The status quo in respect of the suit property be maintained until September 27 when miscellaneous application No. 884/2013 will be heard interparties," the order dated September 20 read in part.

In his application, Semakula, the Pastor of Holy Ghost Healing Tower Church at Maganjo along Bombo road, wants court to declare that he is the rightful owner of the land in question and also to direct Kulata not to cancel his title.

Semakula also wants court to issue; "a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from further dealing, using and or interfering with his land title." Through Nabukenya, Mularila and company advocates, Semakula is also seeking damages with interest and costs of the suit.

Kulata and Robert Nyombi, the Wakiso principal registrar of titles were implicated in a land scam where documents were reportedly forged in an attempt to fraudulently transfer ownership of the land.

The case GEF 657/2013 is also under investigation by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the Director Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (CIID). New Vision has learnt that Nyombi has already been quizzed by detectives over the matter. Semakula also opened up a case against one Yasin Sempijja (GEF 544/2013), who reportedly threatened to kill him if he does not give up on the land.

Charlotte Kyohairwe on behalf of the director land matters in State House wrote to IGG and the Director CIID asking them to investigate the matter after Semakula petitioned State House. In his petition, Semakula accused Kulata and Nyombi of giving misleading information in an attempt to grab his land.

Commenting on the matter, Nyombi who was also acted as commissioner land registration before he was posted to Wakiso, said there were records regarding the matter.

"Ownership of land is not proved by me or the commissioner, it is the records. Land cannot be stolen like a cloth. It is not about alleging but (presenting) records. You go to the commissioner (Kulata) to show you those records. Some of the documents regarding that matter date way back before I had even graduated or ever thought of working in lands," Nyombi stated.

According to Kyohairwe, the title issued to Kajungu was based on forged letters of administration purportedly acquired by Scolastica Nanteza, who was Mukungu's wife and that the instrument number on the white page of the title was altered.

A police forensic report signed by forensic document examiner Erisa Sebuwufu and co-signed by Sylvia Chelangat, showed that there were two different signatures on documents that Kajungu claimed were signed by Nanteza (also deceased).

Sebuwufu observed that the questioned instrument number KLA 41?261 on exhibit D (white page) was altered by modifying figure 5 by introducing figure 2 to make it appear like figure 8. The original instrument number is KLA 415261.

Documents show that Kajungu bought the land from Nanteza and not Mbirontono who currently has the powers of attorney. Although court clarified that letters of administration were issued to Mbirontono after she swore an affidavit and not to Nanteza, Kulata declined to clear Ssemakula saying her office was still investigating the matter.

This prompted Semakula to petition State House. After perusing Semakula's petition, Kyohairwe wrote to Kulata asking her to cancel the title that had been issued to Kajungu, saying it was a forgery.

"Having looked at all the different documents and evidence, it is clear that Semakula is the rightful owner of the land," Kyohairwe stated in a letter dated August 2, 2013. But Kulata still insisted that they were still investigating, prompting State House to write to IGG and CIID asking them to investigate the matter.

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