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I Resisted Hefty Bribes - Land Registrar

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She told the Commission that the collapse of systems at the land registries together with integrity problems in land administration led to issuance of fake land titles that are now due for cancellation. She also claimed the land registrars need to be cushioned from politicians whom have partly contributed to the mess at the lands registry.
23 Aug 2017 15:50
Louella Ataro taking notes assisted by her Lawyer

Audio 2

A Senior Registrar of titles at the Ministry of Lands, Louella Ataro says she resisted a bribe for her to fraudulently issue certificates of title on a disputed block of land in Lubowa. 

Ataro who formerly worked as a registrar of titles at Wakiso District was appearing before the commission of inquiry into land matters over her role in the issuance of titles in forest reserves, wetlands and Bukasa cemetery land.

She told the Commission that the collapse of systems at the land registries together with integrity problems in land administration led to issuance of fake land titles that are now due for cancellation.  She also claimed the land registrars need to be cushioned from politicians whom have partly contributed to the mess at the lands registry.

Ataro, in a statement on June 24, claimed that she resisted a bribe after she had discovered irregularities regarding individuals who were processing titles on block 269 in Lubowa. Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the chairperson of the commission, pushed her to provide further information on the bribery allegations.

She revealed to the Commission that she was approached by Simon Katoyingi, a records officer attached to Wakiso Ministry Zonal Office asking her to sign for certificates of title on the land which was registered as a freehold in the names of Mitchell Cotts Uganda Ltd. She however asked to reveal the amount of money in camera.

// Cue In "He had intimated to me…

Cue Out… it was quite a lot of money."//

She said that she revealed the bribery allegations to Wakiso District Land Officer Gilbert Kasozi who then told her about how much money was supposed to change hands between her and other registrars of titles.

She says she advised that the land was registered as freehold and that the Lands registry should not be issuing other freehold titles or leases on the same.    A freehold title on the land in question had been issued in 1931 belonging to Mitchell Cotts Uganda Ltd.

However, the land has turned controversial of recent with a number of individuals and government institutions laying claim over it. It is being claimed by ministry of health on a plot where an international specialized hospital is to be constructed. National Social Security fund also claims part of it.

But Wakiso Land office still went on and processed titles when Ataro was transferred to the Lands Ministry in Kampala. 

The Ministry of Lands recently said it had cancelled 46 land titles which were allegedly issued fraudulently. Kateera & Kagumire Advocates had complained on behalf of Mitchell Cotts Uganda Ltd saying plots marked between 2926 and 2970 had illegally been parceled out on Block 269 at Lubowa Hill.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire is one of those whose land title was due for cancellation over fraudulent acquisition. Others belonged to one Hassan Ssemujju, Ibrahim Mulumba, Aloysius Sseruwagi, Willis Murozi and Global International Alliance Limited.

The bribery issue of the Mitchell Cotts Uganda is just one example of how integrity issues or corruption has messed up land registration in the country.

One of the Commissioners, Mary Oduka Ochan wondered about who is likely to meet the cost of paying those affected with the cancellation of titles. Ataro apologized for the mess.

//Cue In; "It is quite…

Cue Out… and to the court system."//

She suggested that individuals that processed the titles should be held liable. Some lawyers have in the past said it would be hard to hold the registrar of titles for the mess because they seem to be so protected by the registration of titles Act.