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Police Defies Minister's Directive To Arrest Landlord For Demolishing Tenant House

Ssemwogerere says that the State Attorney explained that Serunjogi obtained a court order before demolishing the house and argued that the charges may not stand.
Minister Mayanja and the affected family pointing at house demolished by Serunjogi
Nakeseke Police have defied a directive by the State Minister for Lands, Sam Mayanja to re-arrest a landlord who demolished a house to forcefully evict a tenant.

On Thursday last week, Mayanja directed Nakaseke District Police Commander, Ben Nuwamanya Kashumbusha to immediately arrest Sula Serunjogi, a former Resident District Commissioner and National Resistance Movement Mobiliser for criminal trespass and malicious damage to property.

He also ordered Police to ensure that Serunjogi reconstructs the house as well as compensate the tenant. It came after Stephen Mugambwa, a resident of Kimegeredde cell in Semuto town council pinned Serunjogi for demolishing his house on December 2021 to forcefully evict him from a disputed piece of land measuring 6.74 acres.

Mugambwa claims that he inherited the land from his father Colombani Mukasa and has occupied it for the past 48 years.  However, to date, Serunjogi is still at large in Semuto town. Isah Ssemwogerere, the Savannah Regional Police Spokesperson, says that prior to the Minister's directive, police arrested and detained Serunjogi on the same charges but the state attorney declined to sanction his file prompting his release on police bond.

Ssemwogerere says that the State Attorney explained that Serunjogi obtained a court order before demolishing the house and argued that the charges may not stand. "It's difficult to re-arrest a suspect yet the State Attorney declined to sanction the same charges. Police in Nakaseke has since referred the matter to the Savannah Regional Police headquarters to advise on the way forward," Ssemwogerere

But John Kaddu, the Nakaseke Deputy Resident District Commissioner insists that police should re-arrest Serunjogi as directed by the Minister since he didn’t follow the right procedures before demolishing Mugambwa's house. Kaddu says that apart from the fact that the eviction was done at night in disregard of the guidelines, his office was never notified to enable them to alert the affected tenant. 

“There were irregularities in the process of acquiring the order and implementing it. Police must arrest Serunjogi and compel him to reconstruct a house which he destroyed,” Kaddu said. Serunjogi said that he dragged Mugambwa to court for trespassing on his land and the case was decided ex-parte. He says that he obtained a court order sanctioning the eviction. 

This is not the first time the Police have declined to enforce Mayanja’s directive. Two weeks ago, Police in Luwero refused to allow the family of Late Yafeesi Ssembatya to take possession of their 1.30 acres of land in Luwero town. This was after Mayanja directed that title of another person who had acquired freehold title on the land with a lease running for 49-years be cancelled. 

The Police instead arrested the family members who were trying to take possession of their land in line with the Minister's directive on charges of criminal trespass. Mayanja rushed back to the Police Station and ordered for the immediate release of the family members.

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