25 March 2019

Uganda: New Judge Takes Over Bugoma Forest Case

Kampala — Another judge has taken over the case in which the National Forestry Authority (NFA) sued the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, Mr Solomon Iguru Gafabusa, for alleged encroachment on Bugoma Forest in Hoima District.

According to a source privy to the proceedings, the case has been allocated to Justice Wilson Masalu Musene, who will today give guidance on the matter.

The NFA alleges that the Bunyoro king fraudulently concealed and stealthily applied for a freehold title on part of the forest land which was granted by the Uganda Land Commission (ULC). The Omukama is jointly sued with Hoima Sugar Limited and ULC.

Justice Musene takes over from Judge Albert Rugadya Atwooki, who in December last year stepped down from the case. Justice Atwooki withdrew after hearing evidence from all the parties and the case was awaiting only judgment.

Commission of Inquiry

On October 26, 2018 the chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into land matters, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, in a press statement said more than 12 square miles of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve had been handed to Hoima Sugar Works by a ruling of court which reversed the cancellation of title to the land by the Commissioner of Land Registration.

One of the lawyers yesterday said Justice Musene is expected to visit the disputed land in Hoima today in the presence of all parties in the suit.

Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine earlier said the new judge has the discretion under the law to choose whether to rely on the existing evidence and submissions to decide the case or hear it afresh.

The dispute land on plot 216, Buhanguzi Block 2, whose title is currently held by Hoima Sugar Limited claims ownership of 8,000 hectares.

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