IGP Kayihura, UIA Drawn Into Ssembabule Land Wrangle

3252 Views Sembabule, Uganda

In short
The Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura has set up a team to investigate how Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) officials sold off the land in Bigaaga Estates, which has resulted in clashes between residents and the investor.

The Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura has set up a team to investigate how Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) officials sold off the land in Bigaaga Estates, which has resulted in clashes between residents and the investor.
 
The team headed by the Commandant of the Police Land Protection Unit from Kampala William Kototyo, was tasked to find out how officials from UIA sold off the land to an investor Kerren Kayonga through her company Abeeki Investment Enterprises Limited and later forward the report to the State Minister for Land Aidah Nantaba to take administrative action.
 
Last week, unruly residents attacked over 100 cattle that belonged to the investor and beat them leading to the death of a number of them. During the scuffle, residents also stoned a police vehicle belonging to Ssembabule Police Station but Anti-riot Police tear-gassed the crowd and they retreated.
 
Police deployed 80 Anti Riots police officers to guard the Animals from angry residents who wanted to kill them claiming that they were using the same piece of land for both settlement and animal grazing for over 30 years.
 
The disputed piece of land is on 4.5 square miles located in Ntuusi sub county in Sembabule district that  occupies  five villages of Booma A and Booma B, Kinoni, Kabukongoto and Bigaaga with over  300 homestead that await eviction.
 
Early this week, Kayihura rushed to Ssembabule to settle the land dispute and when he met the affected families they protested the sale of the land. Residents through their area Member of Parliament Theodore Ssekikubo petitioned parliament to intervene accusing police of conniving with the investor.
 
The residents also asked the IGP to investigate the Ntuusi LC3 Chairperson Emmanuel Kamihingo and the Ssembabule District Police Commander, Robert Walugembe.  According to residents, the two officials have personal interests and are allegedly conniving with the investor to evict the locals without compensation after they secured a bribe from her.
 
 Justus Dembe, the Chairperson of the aggrieved residents, asked Kayihura to investigate how Abeeki Investment Enterprises Limited got the land.  He blames the Uganda Investment Authority for allegedly selling off the land to an investor that is occupied by both farmers and cattle keepers.
 
Kayihura ordered a special probe committee headed by the Commandant of the Police Land Protection Unit to investigate the matter. He explains that he decided to institute a probe committee after finding out that the process of selling was marked with confusion.
 
In the meantime 40 Anti-riot Police officers are protecting the disputed land in Bigaaga to avoid injuring the animals until investigations are done.
 
However, Kerren Kayonga, one of the Directors of Abeeki Investment, claims to have bought the land from Uganda Investment Authority in November 2007. She says that the delay to occupy her land, was caused by some politicians in Sembabule district who mobilize residents to block her from settling on her land.
 
Frank Sebbowa, the Executive Director of Uganda Investment Authority, continues to refuse to comment on the dispute or investigations into the matter.