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Witness pins gov’t over compensation

FILE PHOTO: Justice Catherine Bamugemereire

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Dr. Muhammad Kasasa has accused government of fleecing his compensation money resulting from sale of land on Mutungo Hill.

Appearing before the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters on Wednesday Kasasa says that in 1996, a military detach was set up on his land in Mutungo. He says that he ignored their presence hoping that they would vacate.

They set up military equipment which prompted Kasasa to confront them in 2000.

The military officers on his land advised him to address the matter to their superiors at Bombo barrack which he did.

Kasasa adds that in 2002, he held a meeting with three government officials who included a government valuer from the Ministry of Lands, the then Secretary of Uganda Land Commission and a representative from External Security Organisation.

Kasasa told the commission that during the meeting they agreed that government pays 200 million shillings per acre for the 12 acres they occupied. There was however no record of the meeting.

Kasasa says he kept pursuing his compensation until in 2008 when he entered a sell agreement with government.

However, documents presented before the commission showed that Kasasa had received payment worth 1.1 billion shillings in installments of 700 million shillings, 184 million, and 186 million between 2006 and 2007.

Kasasa, however, says that the money was not given to him. He says some government officials he had dealt with to help him process his compensation instead took his money.

He explained how they opened an account in his name, deposited 186 million and withdrew the entire amount immediately leaving him with no coin. They told him he would benefit from future payments.

Land probe Chairperson Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire asked Kasasa to name the officers who cheated him but he declined.

She attempted severally to persuade him to name the officials. However, he declined, saying that he fears for his life.

The Commission was in possession of Electronic Fund Transfer document that showed that Kasasa had received the last payment of 1.3billion shillings on 23rd November 2009.

According to the 2017 Auditor General’s report, the government owes Kasasa close to 8 billion shillings as interest accumulating from the purchase of land in Mutungo.

In the 2008 sale agreement between Kasasa and the government, the seller was entitled to an interest in case government failed to make payment in six months after the two parties agreeing to the transaction. The interest would be based on the bank rates at the time of payment.

It is not clear to the commission how an interest clause in a 2008 agreement affected payment made earlier in the first three installments. The commission also questioned the manner in which the interest was computed to amount to over 7 billion shillings.

When asked to explain the accumulated interest, Kasasa could not. He said while he knows that government owes him money, he doesn’t know how much it is. He added he has no hope of getting the money following the past experiences with government officials.

Lead counsel Ebert Byenkya says the commission would invite the Land Commission to explain the irregularities since the witness could not.




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