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Former Police Land Unit Boss Quizzed Over Brutal Evictions

Commissioner Mary Oduka Ochan faulted Mutungi about the manner, in which police handled the evictions. Commissioner Fredrick Ruhindi also questioned Mutungi why only local people fall victims of police brutally and illegal evictions during land conflicts.

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Charles Mutungi, the former head of the Police Lands Protection Unit has testified before the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters on his role in the Nsololo land conflict in Kassanda Sub County in Kassanda District. 

 

In 2017, during his tenure as the Commandant of the Land Protection Unit, Mutungi wrote to Wamala Region Police Commander asking him to help Omumbejja Fatuma Ndagire take possession of her land in Nsololo.

 

In his letter, Mutunji claimed that Ndagire was the rightful owner of the disputed land but was being blocked by tenants from accessing it. During the meeting, Commissioner Joyce Nabasa asked Mutungi if he sought to understand the issues surrounding the disputed land and the authenticity of Ndagire's claim. 

Mutungi noted that he based his decision on the information given provided by Ndagire to advise the Regional Police Commander to provide her the necessary support to utilize her land. He also said that he didn't have any contacts in area apart from the Regional Police Commander who he had been told knew about the issue.

 

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The disputed land belonged to Yowasi Bajjabagonda and seats on Block 339 plot 2 in Nsololo Village. Bajjabagonda's grandchildren are contesting Ndagire's claims on the land. While Ndagire claims that she was recommended to take over the estate by clan leaders, Bajjabagonda's customary heir, Paulo Muwanga accuses her of fraudulently acquiring letters of administration. 

Shortly after acquiring powers of attorney in 2009, Ndagire changed the tittles of the land into her names. She reportedly used the tittles to evict and torture several people occupants on the land using police.

 

Christine Nantume, a resident of Nsololo is one of those who were evicted from her house.  She accused Ndagire of using police officers and guards from Senaca Security Limited to evict her from her land.

 

Commissioner Mary Oduka Ochan faulted Mutungi about the manner, in which police handled the evictions. Commissioner Fredrick Ruhindi also questioned Mutungi why only local people fall victims of police brutally and illegal evictions during land conflicts. He asked the officer to explain why police violated the right of Bibanja holders while serving the interests of the land lord.

 

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Legally, evictions should be enforced by court bailiffs. Commissioner Robert Sebunya questioned Mutungi on the conduct of police officers during evictions following complaints from the evicted families that police destroyed their property and even raped some women in the process.

 

He was also questioned on the time some evictions are carried out such as Lusanja where people were evicted in the night. In his response Mutungi said that when an eviction order reaches the office of the Head Land Protection Unit, he asks the Regional Police Commander to get details about the matter before leading court bailiffs to the scene to ensure the eviction is done lawfully.

 

He said the officers are instructed to maintain order during evictions and not to execute the evictions, adding that the officers are under instructions to withdraw should the affected people resist the eviction.

 

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Mutungi asked the Commission to grant him more time to come up with a paper detailing the role of police in land matter. He was asked to provide details of how they carry out operations, how they deal with police officers who carry out illegal evictions or commit atrocities during evictions, provide a list of officers who have been dealt with and those still undergoing trial and also make suggestions on how to resolve the land conflicts in Uganda.