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MPs want Sh2 billion land payment to ‘ghost’ returned

FILE PHOTO: A COSASE meeting

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament on the Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises – COSASE have proposed a move be made to recover Sh2.039 billion that was paid to Natalia Namuli, a ‘ghost recipient’ in a land compensation scam.

The land in question measuring 516 hectares, approximately two square miles, has been linked to the late Antwane Kalete in Kibaale District. It was purportedly being administered by his surviving daughter, Namuli, 79, who sold it to the Government in 2015 through the Uganda Land Commission – ULC.

While appearing before the MPs on Wednesday, Denis Kahabura, the Kibaale Senior Registrar of Land Title; Baker Mugaino (the Commissioner of Land Registration), and Yasin Bogezi Swal (Senior Government Valuer) were faulted for negligence leading to the loss of taxpayers’ money.

The MPs argue that the three officials did not do due diligence in verifying the requisite documents thus causing a loss of funds to the Government. They also wondered why the land was hurriedly surveyed on July 17 2020, and five days later on July 22 same month, the title was processed.

While it was a total lockdown period due to the outbreak of covid-19, the MPs also queried how quick the process was possible to process court documents prompting Namuli to travel from Kagadi to Kampala to seek legal services.

Abdallah Kiwanuka, the Mukono North MP and also the Shadow Internal Affairs Minister wondered why after the Government disbursed the money, the title for the land has never been transferred to the Uganda Land Commission – ULC.

The Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa observed that the whole land transaction was a scam and the suspects involved including officials from the ULC and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development knew it was an illegality.

Daniel Mugulusi the Undersecretary and Accounting Officer at ULC disclosed that they have already put a caveat on the land to enable the Government to recover its money that was erroneously disbursed to the claimants.

But the Committee Chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi observed that while the title was not transferred in time, it was a blessing in disguise because the ULC bought land from fraudulent owners, a process that would later be challenged in court.

For more than two months now, the Committee has been investigating the land sale which prompted the unlawful initiation of 10.6 billion Shillings in supplementary expenditure to compensate six claimants among whom was Namuli.

Ever since findings have since revealed that a court order purportedly issued by the Masindi High Court Judge, Justice Ralph Ochan gave Namuli the letter of administration, and powers of the attorney to a city law firm, Lubega & Buzibira Company Advocates, through which the Government disbursed the funds were forged.

By her confession in a police statement, Namuli, 79, has also since denied ever owning the land in question. She also denied ever demanding land compensation from the Government and equally protested her relationship with the deceased Kalete’s family.

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URN

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