The Observer (Kampala)

2 July 2014

Uganda: Muslim Properties - More Rot Exposed

Photo: Uganda Govt
President Yoweri Museveni meeting with some of the Muslim leaders in Uganda (file photo).

In the second part of a three-part series on wrangles in Uganda's Muslim community, The Observer continues to report on the 60-page Joint Muslim Committee (JMC) investigation report unveiled on June 14.

The report implicates the UMSC top leadership in the illegal sale of key UMSC assets. Below are excerpts from the report.

Although Mufti Shaban Mubajje had shown a resolve to protect the assets, the committee discovered, he backtracked and supported the schemes. On July 4, 2005 on the orders of Sheikh Shaban Mubajje, a caveat was lodged on all [UMSC properties] by Ahmada Yahya Lukwago, Ibrahim Hassan Kirya, Ismail Mugomba, and Siraj Kavuma save for Badru Sabira, who did not sign.

On August 4, 2005, this caveat was removed in a document drawn and presented by Dr Kasenene as secretary general, Hassan Basajjabalaba as chairman and H.E [His Emminence] the Mufti. Dr Kasenene has since denied ever signing, drawing or presenting the document removing the caveat. Further, the caveators who lodged this caveat as numerated above, all deny ever signing or authorizing anybody to remove the caveat on their behalf.

The removal of the caveat facilitated further transfer of Plot 30 William Street into the names of a third party, thereby making its recovery more involving than it should have been. This property has since been sold by Basajjabalaba to Francis Drake Lubega for US$ 2m although this purchase price was indicated falsely on the transfer instrument as Shs 600m.

The above transactions infuriated the Muslim community so much that it prompted the president to intervene and he pledged to refund the money to Francis Drake Lubega so that the Muslim community would regain this property.

Specific recommendation: The committee appreciates the president's magnanimity and requests His Excellency to finalize this offer.

b) Plot 102, William street, Kampala Plot 102 has the same peculiarities as Plot 30 William street. It was acquired and was more or less disposed of in the same manner. However, the pertinent facts about this property are as follows;

Until February 1, 2005, it was the property of UMSC.

On February 1, 2005 or thereabout, the Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Mubajje, Dr Kasenene, the secretary general then and Hajji Basajjabalaba, the vice chairman then, without the resolution of the UMSC executive committee at the time in accordance with the UMSC Constitution Article 10(9)(d) under the Registration of Titles Act, executed an instrument to effect transfer of this property into the names of HAKS Express Ltd, a company fronted, controlled and to which the beneficially owner is Hajji Basajjabalaba.

This property, like Plot 30 William street was after its transfer to HAKS Express Ltd astonishingly "subleased" by UMSC to HAKS Express Ltd via the same memorandum of understanding of March 18, 2005 in exchange for the construction of a perimeter shopping mall by HAKS Express Ltd at Old Kampala plot 23-25 Old Kampala road.

The signatures to the transfer instrument on behalf of HAKS Express Ltd are the same that signed the MOU. This property was further affected by an undated document known as the "variation deed", referred to above, which varied its "sublease" status to provide for a full transfer into the names of HAKS Express Ltd notwithstanding the fact that the property had by then already been transferred to the names of HAKS Express Ltd on February 1, 2005.

The "variation deed" lacked a minute of the executive committee as provided for in the UMSC constitution. This property was also affected by the caveat lodged on all [UMSC properties] on the orders of the Mufti of Uganda on July 4, 2005.

Like plot 30 William street, this property (plot 102) was equally affected by both the lodging and removal of the caveat on July 4 and August 4, 2005 already referred to above, respectively in a document named "withdraw of caveat" drawn and presented by Dr Kasenene as secretary general and Hassan Bassajjabalaba as chairman and H.E the Mufti for and on behalf of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.

The original members of the executive committee who lodged this caveat maintain that they neither removed nor ordered for the removal of this caveat. Presently it (plot 102) houses Kololo High School and it was allegedly sold to the Government of Uganda through the ministry of Education by Hassan Bassajjabalaba.

C) Plot 12-16 Port Bell Road Luzira:

This plot measuring approximately six acres of land was purchased by the Industrial and Commercial Holdings Limited, a subsidiary company of UMSC in 1978.

On March 18, 2005, this plot was said to have been "subleased" to HAKS Ltd for 43 years over an existing sublease earlier on granted to Makai Ltd, as further consideration (to HAKS Express Ltd) for the construction of the perimeter shopping mall at Old Kampala plot 23-25 for 43 years effective from April 1, 2005.

It was further agreed and understood that as part of the construction for the said sub-lease HAKS Express Ltd would handle all encumbrances and legal issues attached to the above property including all costs thereof on behalf of Industrial and Commercial Holdings Ltd and to effect the renewal of the lease for a further term of 99 years.

By doing the above, the UMSC placed a legal obligation on another legal body without its consent (i.e. without the resolution of the Board of Directors of the Industrial and Commercial Holdings Ltd). Notwithstanding the fact that UMSC was the majority shareholder of the said subsidiary, the two are independent legal entities; therefore, the actions of UMSC are not binding on the Industrial and Commercial Holdings Ltd, making the said sublease and subsequent agreement for transfer of the property's ownership illegal.

This property, like the others above mentioned in this report, was affected by the various orders given out by Mufti Mubajje, Dr Kasenene and Hajj Hassan Basajjabalaba as both a vice chairman [of UMSC] and purchaser; namely the variation deed, and removal of the caveat already referred.

d) Sublease of a piece of land out of Plot 23-25 Old Kampala road:

An agreement, (MOU of March 18, 2005 between UMSC and HAKS Express Ltd) was executed between UMSC and HAKS Express Ltd for an unspecified piece of land on plot 23-25 as further consideration for the construction of the perimeter shopping mall already mentioned above.

The measurements of this plot of land are not specified in the agreement but it is stated that it was subleased to HAKS LTD for 40 years. HAKS Express Ltd has since constructed shops on this piece of land.

Like all properties mentioned in the March 18, 2005 MOU, this too, is affected by the variation deed, the lodging and the removal of the caveat of July 4 and August 4, 2005 respectively.

The committee was informed by the Mufti Sheikh Shaban Mubajje that UMSC had terminated the sublease because apparently HAKS Ltd had breached the agreement. This too, is an area of potential conflict between UMSC and HAKS Ltd.

The UMSC presently collects rent from the tenants, from the perimeter shops at Old Kampala contrary to the earlier agreement that this piece of land was subleased to HAKS Ltd for 40 years from March 18, 2005. Actually HAKS Ltd (read Hassan Basajabalaba) maintains that the property is his and at an appropriate time is going to demand the money from the time this building was completed and occupied.

He further alleges that he lost some of his equipment and building materials as "unauthorized" people took over his building. According to him, of all the properties involved in this agreement, this is the "cleanest." Again, this is another area of potential conflict between UMSC and HAKS Express Ltd.

Continues on Friday...

Part 1: How Muslims lost property

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InFocus

Wrangles in Uganda's Muslim Community

President Yoweri Museveni meeting with some of the Muslim leaders in Uganda (file photo).

An investigation report by the Joint Muslim Committee has exposed the alleged illegal sale of key assets by the country's Muslim Supreme Council's top leadership. Read more »