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Prisons, Land Commission Bicker Over Luzira Land Grab

Luzira prisons originally owned 392.996 acres of land. Out of these, Uganda Land Commission (ULC) gave out 116.476 acres to various developers, leaving a total of 276.52 acres as land that that remained occupied the Prison. But in 2014, the Department of Surveys and Mapping established that the acreage of the available land for Luzira was only 169.828 acres.
Dr. George Muge (middle), the Uganda Prisons Land Board Chairman speaking before PAC.

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Land measuring 107 acres, initially owned by the Uganda Prisons Service, has been controversially parcelled into plots by Uganda Land Commission (ULC) and awarded to different individuals. This was disclosed by The land is valued at 63 billion Shillings.  

The Uganda Prisons Land Board Chairman Dr George Muge told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament this afternoon that when they requested the commission to open boundaries for the land in question in 2014, the acres under question were left out and have now been parcelled into plots.  

Similarly, Samuel Baker Emiku, the prisons service accounting officer stated that the land was parcelled without the knowledge of the prisons authorities. The Luzira land title is held by the Uganda Land Commission in trust. 

Emiku said that they have since been confronted by different people claiming ownership of the land, a matter which has now been forwarded to the Internal Affairs Ministry. Emiku was leading a team of Prisons officials to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, to respond to audit queries raised by the Auditor-General in the June 2018 report.  

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According to the Auditor General, Luzira prisons originally owned 392.996 acres of land. Out of these, Uganda Land Commission (ULC) in consultation with Uganda Prisons Service gave out 116.476 acres to various developers, leaving a total of 276.52 acres as land that that remained occupied by the prison. 

But in 2014, the Department of Surveys and Mapping established that the acreage of the available land for Luzira was only 169.828 acres. The extra 106.6 acres could not be accounted for. 

Dr Muge told the committee that he was in possession of titles for people who have approached Uganda Prisons claiming ownership of the land. But Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja She demanded that the committee summons the Lands Minister Betty Amongi, Internal Affairs Jeje Odong and officials from ULC to iron out the matter.  She argues that ULC cannot move to parcel land without the entity’s permission.  

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Committee Chairman Nathan Nandala Mafabi directed Uganda Prisons Service to avail documentation on the contested land by Thursday, while at the same time making arrangements to summon the sector ministers. The required documentation includes names of officials from the Department of Surveys and Mapping, Entebbe who opened the land boundaries and names of people claiming ownership of the land.

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Nandala also guided that the Uganda Prisons immediately places a caveat on the land as provided under the Registration of Titles Act so that nothing is done on the property under query.  Nandala maintained that the Land Act requires ULC to hold government land in trust and that for anything to be done on the land consent must be thought from the responsible entity. 

Meanwhile, PAC also leant that the 230 acres of Prisons land at Kirinya in Jinja district was under threat after the Lake Victoria Information Communication Technology and Biotech (LAVIT), a company to which the land was leased in 2008, mortgaged it in Crane Bank Limited. The entire land was leased out to LAVIT by ULC on the directive of the Privatization Unit.

"...Even after the lease, LAVIT did not do anything on the land apart from putting a fence. Last year Uganda Prisons got a letter from DFCU Bank which bought Crane Bank informing us that LAVIT mortgaged the land and that the mortgage was not performing,” Dr Muge said. As a result, the Prisons Service was threatened with eviction.

Dr Muge told PAC that they have since written to the Solicitor General Francis Atoke seeking guidance on the matter. 

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Nandala equally directed Uganda Prisons to avail his committee with details of the Kirinya Land takeover.

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