10 October 2017

Uganda: UPDF Officer Probed Over Evictions

Photo: Ephraim Kasozi/Daily Monitor
Eric Kigamboha takes an oath while appearing before the land commission in Mubende.

Mubende — A senior army officer has been interrogated by the Commission of Inquiry on land matters over alleged displacement of people and destruction of property worth millions of Shillings in Buwekula Sub-county, Mubende District.

It is alleged that during his tenure as a senior staff officer-in-charge of administration at Mubende Rehabilitation Centre, Maj Eric Kigamboha, irregularly acquired 50 acres of land at Butorogo.

Witnesses testified that Maj Kigamboha deployed armed soldiers to displace people from the land where they had lived for decades without compensation or their consent.

Evidence before the commission indicates that Maj Kigamboha forcibly bought a house of 16 iron sheets and the plot at Shs500,000 and subsequently deported the owner, Mr Charles Byangaramani, and his family to Rwanda. Appearing before the commission last week, Maj Kigamboha, now attached to Operation Wealth Creation, admitted buying the house at Shs500,000.

"When I bought the house, he (Byangaramani) told me he had abandoned the land issues and wanted to go back to his home area," he said.

Maj Kigamboha said he bought the land from one Henry Kaaya in the presence of one Ms Milly Naava Namutebi.

Maj Kigamboha is jointly accused with Ms Namutebi of robbing a family of their land measuring more than three square miles.

The army officer said he bought the land through Mubende-based Jozana Property Consultant who linked him to Mr Kaaya in 2013.

Ms Namutebi, a retired primary school teacher, has since been arrested and subjected to investigations for allegedly forging documents that were used to evict hundreds of people from the land between 2010 and 2015.

The commission chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, is inquiring into the law, processes and procedures in land acquisition.

Further implicated

In a separate appearance, the Commandant of Mubende Rehabilitaion Centre, Brig George Gyagenda Kibirango, said the documents regarding the purported acquisition of the land by Maj Kigamboha have inaccuracies with varying names, suggesting fraud. He asked the commission to give him more evidence to enable him carry out a separate inquiry to inform his superiors of the necessary action.

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