Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament have tasked Government officials to explain plans to pay for land occupied by other individuals instead of only paying for the demolished St. Peter Church Ndeeba.
The Ministry of Lands officials led by state Minister for Lands, Persis Namuganza was today appearing before the Adhoc committee of Parliament investigating compensation of 7.6 billion to Medard Kiconco over his land in Kyadondo, Lusanja, in Mpererwe and Land belonging to Ephraim Enterprises which was occupied by Ndeeba Church before it was razed down last year during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The land owners were to receive 3.8 billion shillings each.
But during the committee, the MPs wondered why the Ministry of Lands was compensating for the whole land in Ndeeba measuring 2.0 acres instead of only paying for the land occupied by the Church which is barely an acre .
Cyrus Aogon, the Kumi Municipality MP who is part of the team investigating the matter said if Government pays for the entire land to Dodovico Mwanje, later on the Church can evict the people living in the same piece of land with permanent homes, shops and other developments. He says Government should not leave the question of squatters unresolved.
Ndeeba Church was demolished on August 9 in the night after an ownership dispute spanning more than 40 years. The act was a result of a court decision over a property wrangle between the Church of Uganda and the joint administrators of the estate of the late Evelyn Nachwa, a Buganda Kingdom Princess.
The demolition followed a court ruling which indicated that the land had been fraudulently registered in the names of Bishop Danistan Nsubuga, Rev. Yuda Kitaka, and Esau Kizito, thus ordering the church to vacate. In the aftermath of the demolition, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni promised that Government would rebuild the Church and compensate the owner of the land.
This was followed by a notice which was put into the Uganda Gazette on August 28 indicating that the Minister of Lands has already issued a statutory instrument regarding the piece of land situated in Kibuga block 7 plot 39.
The Government Valuer went in and valued the land at 3.8 billion shillings, an amount that Mwanje has rejected and preferred to have back his land for development.
On Monday, the committee chairperson Veronica Bichetero Eragu demanded to know why the Ministry decided to value the entire land with other development yet the President’s directive was specifically talking about the land that is owned by the demolished church.
“What you valued is not what the President directed. After the President’s letter, some people got excited and valued land containing other developments yet these people had earlier paid for their pieces of land,” Bichetero questioned.
Namuganza explained that indeed the valuation was for the entire land including that not occupied by church.
“The Church claimed that the whole land measured 2.0acreas. However we can discuss this proposal that we only consider the land that housed the demolished church. The government’s interest is the church land but if the other occupants can coexist, then there’s no problem,” she said.
The MPs also put the officers to task to explain the circumstances under which the two plots were merged to make one plot 7, block 39.
Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa questioned the purpose of merging these plots and when was it done and by who.
The Ministry officials led by Namuganza pledged to table the property mutation details, to show how the property was divided and merged. She also informed the MPs that Government will pay the land owner whether they want it or not.