MUSEVENI: The bottom line is that the Church will retain this land and we shall build a new church
Kampala, Uganda |THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has today visited the site of the demolished St Peters Church, Ndeeba and resolved to address the matter conclusively with the religious leaders. He early this week directed that all those who were involved in the demolition be arrested and dealt with.
“Even if the church was in the wrong, ordering demolition was extreme. Dialogue would have resolved this matter. Judges should have limits and understand public interest. Demolishing a church is a curse. Also, ignore reports of those claiming the government demolished the church,” President Museveni said after the visit.
He promised to help rebuild the church.
“I am going to invite the Namirembe Diocese Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Wilberforce Luwalira, and engage all parties involved in this conflict to find a lasting solution. The bottom line is that the Church will retain this land and we shall build a new church. I have now joined this war,” the President added.
The demolition that has dominated the news, was the climax of a four-decade property wrangle between the Church of Uganda and the joint administrators of the estate of the late Evelyn Nachwa, a Buganda Kingdom Princess.
Available documents indicate that in 2008, the joint administrators who include Dan Ssemanga, John Kajoba, Edward Bulunga and Steven Nakibinge, sued the Church of Uganda, the Commissioner of Land Registration and other parties accusing them of fraudulently registering the said land in names of Bishop Danistan Nsubuga, Rev Yuda Kitaka, and Esau Kizito.
But the case was never disposed of, until August 21, 2019, when the High Court Land Division ruled that the land in question was still in the vested interest of the late Evelyn (Evarini) Nachwa and that it had been fraudulently registered in the names of Bishop Danistan Nsubuga, Rev Yuda Kitaka, and Esau Kizito. Court further ordered the commissioner Land registration to return the duplicate certificate of title with respect to the suit to the administrators of the estate of the late Evelyn Nachwa.
“An order for vacant possession is granted in favour of the plaintiff. A permanent injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendant or anybody claiming through them from carrying out any activity on the suit land or alienating the same,” the ruling reads in part.
It was consented by Lawyer James Nangwala on behalf of Nangwala, Rezida and company advocates as the counsel for the plaintiff, Ambrose Tebyasa on behalf of the administrators of the estates of Bishop Danistan Nsubuga, Rev Yuda Kitaka, and Esau Kizito. It was also consented by a representative of Nyanzi Kiboneka and Mbabazi advocates, on behalf of the registered trustees of the Church of Uganda.
Last month, the plaintiff in the matter went back to the court seeking an order to demolish the Church structure on the land in question which Justice John Eudes Keitirima so granted. The decision by Justice Eudes Keitirima was based on the fact that the administrators of the estate had been declared rightful owner of the property, last year.
“I find the order superfluous. Once a party is declared the rightful owner of the suit premises and is give vacant possession of the same, he or she is at liberty to use the land as she or he wishes. If she or he found there structures she or he do need he or she is at liberty to demolish them,” Justice Keitirima’s ruling dated July 10, 2020 reads in part.
Basing on the ruling, and the application to demolish the structure, the acting Kampala Capital City Authority physical planner Ivan Katongole gave a green light on the demolition.
However, Katongole gave strict guidelines to the redeveloper in names of Ephraim enterprises to ensure that no person is occupying the building before it is demolished, and ensure other safety measures for the neighbouring community during the exercise. Katongole also noted that the demolition had to happen over the weekend “and off-peak hours to avoid interruptions of traffic and other businesses within the vicinity of the site.”