Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ismail Lukoda Ssekandi, a resident of Lutembe village in Wakiso district, has opened a case file at the Criminal Investigations Directorate accusing police operatives of kidnapping him for five days after he refused to sell his boss’ land.
Ssekandi who is the caretaker of 56 acres of land reportedly leased to Eritrean businessman Ezra Ghebrengus, said he was abducted by 10 men on October 25, and detained without any explanation at Kira road police station.
“I was called by one of my neighbours that there were people who wanted to meet me. When I came, I was grabbed and dragged into a Drone (Toyota Hiace). I was moved around different places in Kampala until in the evening when I was detained at Kira road police station,” Ssekandi said.
He added that although he tried to ask for the offences he had committed, no one among his captors responded to his questions except warning him to keep quiet if he wanted to be safe. He says the day he was arrested was the same day that encroachers started constructing houses on the said land.
Ssekandi says the trouble started in March last year when strangers came in the night and planted bananas on six acres of the land he was protecting. Since his boss was not in the country at the time, he rushed to Kajjansi police station and filed a case of trespass.
One of the trespassers identified as Ahmed Kaweesi was arrested. According to his statement, Kaweesi said he had been informed that the landowner had no land title and it was a chance for him to own a piece of it.
“I was informed that this land has no title and I thought I would take part in it. I request for forgiveness because I have now known this land belongs to someone. I promise never to trespass on this land again,” Kaweesi’s statement reads.
But the encroachers returned in June during Uganda’s second COVID-19 lockdown. This time, Ssekandi was forced to choose between life and death, and under duress, signed a document that he had accepted to take six acres of land and left the other 50 acres to be taken by owners.
“They wrote an agreement on a piece of paper and tasked me to sign. I signed because I knew I would be killed since my boss was unable to come because flights had been banned. They left and warned me never to say anything or else I would see their wrath,” Ssekandi said.
However, Ssekandi would alert whoever was being brought as a prospective buyer that they were buying hot air. After frustrating attempts to fraudulently sell the 50 acres of land, Ssekandi’s tormentors abducted him last month using police operatives.
Ssekandi gained freedom after his boss who was in South Sudan, returned and made searches at various police stations. Ghebrengus led him to CID’s Land Protection Police Unit (LPPU) to file a case which is now being probed under case reference CID HQRS LLPU GEF 247/2021.
Assistant Superintendent of Police-ASP Charles Twine, the CID Spokesperson said Ezra and Ssekandi’s complaint had been received and the inquiries had started. Twine said all documents and searches so far done with the land ministry show Ezra is genuinely holding the land in question.