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High Court Orders Gov't to Compensate Sudanese Investor UGX 5.1b

Justice Henry I. Kaweesa of High Court, Land Division ordered the government to pay the costs to Goodman International Limited a Sudanese firm after tenants backed by Former Ministers of Lands Idah Nantaba and Works Minister Abraham Byandala blocked him from possessing the land he had acquired in Butuntumula Sub County, Luweero district.
The High Court in Kampala has ordered Government to pay a Sudanese Investor over five billion shillings as compensation and general damages after residents blocked his sugarcane project in Luweero district. 

Justice Henry I. Kaweesa of High Court, Land Division ordered the government to pay the costs to Goodman International Limited a Sudanese firm after tenants backed by Former Ministers of Lands Idah Nantaba and Works Minister Abraham Byandala blocked him from possessing the land he had acquired in Butuntumula Sub County, Luweero district.

Khidir Omer Mohamed the Director of the Goodman International Limited dragged Attorney General and Luweero District Land Board to High court demanding for compensation and order declaring the Ministers' orders as unlawful. 

The contested land comprised of Block 650 Plots 2 and Block 652 Plot 267 at Kagoye, Bulemezi measuring 120.9 hectares.

According to the civil suit no. 73 of 2014, the Company obtained the lease in October 2010 for the purpose of setting up a farming and housing project but the company failed to take possession of the land following resistance from tenants backed by the Ministers. 

Khidir Omer Mohamed told court that in the process of boundary opening, members of Bulemeezi Rice & Wheat Growers Association asserted claims on the vacant parts of the suit land and threatened the surveyors and company agents with mob justice yet their lease expired in 1983.  

He added that the claims over the land were legitimized by the incitement of Minister Abraham Byandala and Idah Nantaba who during the course of their duties as officers of the government ordered the said claimants to take possession of the land. 

The company quoted a meeting on the 1st April 2012, when Minister Byandala held a meeting with the said claimants wherein he incited them to destroy concrete poles erected on the suit land and take possession thereof. 

In addition Minister Nantaba also without verifying their claims directed them to forcefully take possession of the suit land during her visit on the suit land on the 29th March 2013.  Consequently, that the said claimants forcefully entered the suit land and destroyed all the fences erected thereon.  

In the Defense, the Attorney General denied liability to the company adding that prior acquisition by the company, the land was subject to unregistered interests of several claimants who were using it for subsistence agriculture.

The Attorney General also accused the company of failing to conduct a proper due diligence to establish the said claims whose claimants he failed to compensate or avail an opportunity to purchase their interests upon acquisition of the suit land.

Luweero District Land Board admitted granting the lease to the company but denied liability that may arise from the alleged actions of the Ministers on ground that the status of the lease was brought to Minister Nantaba’s attention at the meeting she convened concerning the land. 

The Land Board represented by the former the Secretary Amos Kalema told court that before said lease to the company, they inspected the land with applicants and confirmed that the same was vacant save only 10 acres which were under cultivation.

Court visited the land on the 19th March 2019 and confirmed that the land was claimed by about 2,000 people who allegedly belong to the Association but couldn't interview them after they become violent.

In his judgement passed recently, Judge Henry I.Kaweesa ruled that the Ministers both acting under the colour of authority on their respective visits acted unlawful by encouraging claimants to forcefully stay on land yet they were aware of the rightful owner.

He also agreed with the investor that he was denied the right to own property.

The judge ordered the Attorney General to compensate the Company at the market value of the land put at five billion shillings by Chief Government valuer in report dated 9th, August 2018 on top of disturbance allowance of 30%.

The Judge also allowed the company to recover 182 million shillings as general damages accruing to him as goodwill, bad loan, premium to Luweero Land Board and loss of income among others at a Court rate of 18% from the date of judgment till payment in full.

The Luweero Assistant Chief Administrative Officer in- charge of the case Henry Musisi confirmed the judgement but said they are waiting for the full judgement from the district lawyer to discuss the matter.

When reached for comment Abraham Byandala the area Member of Parliament and Former Minister of Works and Transport rubbished the judgement questioning why the Attorney General lawyers didn’t summon him to testify in the case.

URN Reporter couldn’t reach the Attorney General office to comment on the case but according to full judgement obtained, no submissions in reply were made by company demands for the compensation and general damages by either Attorney General or Luweero land Board. The Attorney General also didn’t present any witness in the case.

It’s not yet known whether the Attorney General will appeal the case.  

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