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Commissioner seeks time to undo mess in Jinja land transaction

FILE PHOTO: Justice Catherine Bamugemereire

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The acting commissioner for land registration Robert Opiyo has sought more time to undo the mess associated with a fraudulent land transaction on Plot 24 Kyabazinga way in Nalufenya in Jinja district.

Opiyo said he needs up to Thursday to initiate measures for the cancellation of the freehold title acquired for the land and to restore the ownership of the piece of land known as Tirupati land to Jinja municipal Council.

The commission of inquiry into land matters heard that Jinja Land board superintended over the fraudulent acquisition of the land at 7.5 Billion shillings by businessman Thummar Jay Magnalal Patel for setting up a shopping Mall. Jinja municipal council had earlier leased the land to Tirupati development for construction of a public recreation park.

On Monday, the Chairperson Jinja Land Board Innocent Ndiko Ngobi told the Commission that the ownership of the land changed hands after few members of Jinja district land board conspired to transfer its ownership to Businessman Thummar Jay Magnalal Patel following bribery inducements they received.

Ngobi also admitted to the Commission that the transaction was marred in fraud, rendering it null and void. Ngobi added that there were attempts to bribe her with 50 million Shillings to facilitate the production of fresh land board minutes granting the transfer of the said piece of land despite a running lease, something she declined.

The Commission also heard from Fred Waiswa, the Jinja Land Officer that he was induced with a piece of land to disregard the running lease and process a freehold title for the businessman by Moses Balyeku, the Jinja Member of Parliament as well as Jinja district chairperson Titus Kisambira.

Opiyo equally acknowledged that the land that has been the subject of investigations by the Commission of Inquiry into land matters for the last two weeks was fraudulently acquired.

On Tuesday, Aisha Kabira Kalikumutima, the Senior Land Registrar in Jinja district told the Commission that Jinja district land office was under intense pressure to process the freehold title in complete disregard of the running lease.

She said she was also misguided by communications from her supervisors to erroneously endorse the transaction. She told the Commission that the land has since been subdivided into three plots – 1, 2 and 7 Nalufenya close.

George Bagonza Tinkamanyire, a member of the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire led Commission says their investigations have so far revealed that Businessmen Patel lost close to 1 Billion shillings in chasing the land due to dishonesty, fraud and corruption of Jinja land officials.

He said the fraud denied Jinja Municipal Council a unique opportunity to harvest local revenues from the said developers alongside members of the public missing much-needed services.

The chairperson of the Commission Justice Catherine Bamugemereire said the Robert Opiyo, the acting Commissioner should report his progress to the Commission on Thursday. She said the Commission will recommend those culpable for investigations by the Inspectorate of government to shield the government from lawsuits and claims arising from the businessman Thummar Jay Magnalal Patel.

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