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Lands Ministry Blames Administrator General for Wakiso Land Mess

Appearing before the Commission of inquiry into land Matters, Robert Opio, the acting Commissioner for land registration says the Administrator General cleared the transaction using a search report generated by unauthorized Principal Land Officer in Wakiso Ministry Zonal Office, Johnson Mukaaga.
Engineer Dick Lutaaya Appearing Before The Land Commission of Inquiry

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The Ministry of Lands has denied responsibility in the 7.5 billion Shillings Wakiso land scandal.

Last week, Richard Jabo, the Executive Director of the Duty-Free Export Zone Investment Agency, the Uganda Free Zone Authority pinned the Lands Ministry for clearing a deal in which the government lost money.   

He said the authority went ahead to pay for the land after receiving clearance from the Ministry of Lands that the dealers Engineer Dick Lutaaya and Paul Bukenya were bonafide purchasers of the land. 

Appearing before the Commission of inquiry into land Matters on Monday, Robert Opio, the acting Commissioner for land registration denied clearing the transaction. He said the document being termed clearance is not proof of ownership.

According to Opio, the search report was printed from Wakiso Ministry Zonal Office by unauthorized Principal Land Officer in Wakiso Ministry Zonal Office, Johnson Mukaaga for the purpose of helping the Administrator-General in investigating the ownership of the land. 

Opio says the Administrator General instead used the search report to clear the illegal ownership of Lutaaya and Bukenya as bonafide land purchasers without investigating their illegal titles over the contested piece of land located in Busiiro Block 353 – 540 Polt 236 in Buwaya.  

Opio said the right document to use should have been a proper ownership investigation report commissioned by the office of the Commissioner for Land Registration.  He explained that the titles were cancelled last week and Uganda Free Zone Authority must move ahead to recover the money from those it paid.

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Bukenya and Lutaaya used the powers of attorney of Katende, Ssempebwa and Company Advocates to bid for the supply of the land which has since been found to be on Lake Victoria wetland and Kanga government Forest Reserve. 

He said declaring Lutaaya and Bukenya as bonafide Purchasers of the land meant that the interests of Augustine Bukenya and others had to be compensated. 

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Opio said the Administrator-General should have used a proper investigation report to reinstate the historical interest of Alexander Gabunga Ndiwalana, a former member of the Kabaka’s Marine regiment in the land.    

  

He said “Instead of helping the Ministry of Lands to properly understand the status of the land and its ownership, the Administrator-General which was in charge of the Estate asked Lands Ministry officials to carry out a search to establish bonafide owners”  

According to Opio, the search that was done in Wakiso Ministry Zonal Office where the fraud took place instead vindicated Paul Bukenya and Eng. Lutaaya as Bonafide proprietors instead of requesting proper investigation into the ownership from the office of the Commissioner Lands Registration.        

The Commission heard that Alexander Gabunga Ndiwalana first registered the land in 1952. Engineer Dick Lutaaya and Paul Bukenya are accused of fraudulently securing another title over the same piece of land in 2017 from a group of residents.           

Another witness, Andrew Atwine Besigye, a Land Surveyor with Bika Associates Limited – a Real Estate and Survey firm in Wakiso said they attempted to prevent government losing money in the transaction in vain.  

Atwine told the Land Commission of Inquiry that after failing to win the sale of the land, they opted to represent eight bibanja holders who had interests on the said land. At the end, they fetched Shillings One Billion from the deal which the Attorney General William Byaruhanga says they must refund.    

Atwine will continue his testimony on Tuesday.     



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