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Voluntary surrender of fraudulent land titles starts in Lira

Israel Ochwo together with RCC Lawrence Egole and DPC George M. Omony, addressing journalists in Lira City to give feedback to citizens on investigations into fraudulent allocation and theft of government land in the city.

Lira, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SH-ACU) has revealed that individuals are voluntarily surrendering land titles that were fraudulently acquired in Lira City and District.

In March 2022, the unit launched investigations of the acquisition of land in Lira City following the arrest of a senior public servant who was found transporting vital land documents to an unknown location.

Since then, numerous complaints have been registered and arrests have been made in connection to the fraudulent sale of public land, illegal titles, and mass evictions among others. So far 20 investigation files have been opened and 22 people comprising of politicians, technocrats, and individuals have been charged and others convicted.

Israel Ochwo, the Deputy Head of the Unit told journalists that some individuals whose identities he refused to reveal have started surrendering the land titles for fear of arrest.

In December, Lawrence Okello, a businessman in Lira was arrested for fraudulently procuring a certificate of land title for a plot located at Railways quarter in Lira City East Division. Okello together with the former chairperson of the Railway division area land committee, Joel Okwir were charged before Lira magistrate`s court.

However, weeks later activists accused the investigating officers of targeting businessmen and exhibiting corruption tendencies in the course of their investigations.

Ochwo explained that all these allegations are not backed up by evidence.

According to Ochwo, the businessmen implicated in these cases are free to offer evidence and become state witnesses because most of them were misled by the technocrats.

“A businessman can see a forest and think it is good for a hotel and that is what he wants to do there but the law says that is a forest! So I kept telling them to come and be witnesses because for you, I appreciate you following your business interest but most of them did not cooperate, and again for some of them we see that they were complicit in these activities.”

Speaking specifically about cases in Lira, Sowede Mohammed, the lead detective at the unit called on individuals with evidence to avail them to the unit to aid investigations.

Lawrence Egole, the Lira Resident City Commissioner believes that fighting against corruption should not be tagged to politics but should be a commitment by every Ugandan.

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