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Resident accuses police of coercing him to forfeit land in exchange for bond

Livingstone Kalungi. Courtesy photo

Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Police officers at Kiwoko police station in Nakaseke district are on the spot for allegedly coercing a resident to sign an agreement surrendering his land measuring half an acre to a land grabber in exchange for bond. Livingstone Kalungi, a resident of Bukomba village in Luwero district claims that a group of police officers picked him from his residence at around 3am on June 6th, 2021, and took him to Kiwoko police station in Nakaseke district.

According to Kalungi, he was charged with criminal trespass vide SD 29/02/06/2021. They accused him of unlawfully acquiring and occupying a piece of land measuring 27 yards in Lukenku village in Nakaseke district in 2009. Kalungi reportedly bought the disputed land from Ssenyonjo Muwanguzi, who inherited it from his deceased mother who reportedly bought it using her savings.

Kalungi says that while in police cells, police officers told him that Anatoli Buzoya, a widower is the rightful owner of the land and had resolved to give to her son, Moses Mbazira. According to Kalungi, after spending four days in the cells at Kiwoko police station, officers from the Land Protection Unit coerced him to sign an agreement admitting that he unlawfully bought the land and accepts a refund of the Shillings 1,270,000, which he used to pay for the land 12 years ago.

Kalungi says that he reluctantly accepted to sign the agreement after being intimidated severally that they would transfer him to rot in the notorious Kitalya prison if he refuses to forfeit the land. He secured his freedom on June 11, 2021, the same day he signed the agreement forfeiting his land. Kalungi has now appealed to Nakaseke Resident District Commissioner and Luwero LC 5 chairman to help him recover the land, saying he signed the agreement under duress.

Kalungi is supposed to appear at Kiwoko police station on weekly basis for the extension of his bond until he harvests crops from the land within two months. Mubarak Ssuubi, the LC 1 chairman of Lukenku village, says that police officers summoned him to stamp the agreement at the police station shortly after Kalungi endorsed it.

Ssuubi says that he interacted with Kalungi who told him that he was coerced to sign the agreement to regain his freedom. He however insists that Kalungi lawfully acquired the contested land and is being cheated by grabbers with police support.

Both Moses Mbaziira and Anatoli Buzoya have not yet commented as they couldn’t be reached by our reporter. Erastus Kibirango, the LC V chairman of Luwero district says the said agreement is illegal because it was signed under duress. He has promised to help Kalungi to file a case asking court to nullify it. He also says that he is aware of schemes where police officers act in the background to compel residents to forfeit their land.

Isah Ssemwogerere, the Savannah Region Police Spokesperson says that the in charge of Kiwoko police station has confirmed knowledge of the case but they are yet to furnish him with details. Nayebare Kyamuzigita, the Nakaseke Resident District Commissioner says that nobody will be allowed to evict Kalungi from the land because his investigations show that he lawfully acquired it.

Kyamuzigita says that he will also direct the District Police Commander to drop all criminal charges against Kalungi because he was arrested illegally. He also warns policemen in Nakaseke against defying the Presidential directive not to evict people during the lockdown.

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