Kayunga Land Office Erroneously Gave Away Forest Land -Witness

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In short
Mbaziira told the land probe commission that his office was tricked by Mukono district surveyor to endorse applications seeking leases and freehold titles in the government central forest reserves. The transactions affected Bajjo Central Forest Reserve, Wamale Central Forest Reserve and Kiula Central Forest Reserves in Galiraaya Sub County.

The former head of Mukono Ministerial Zonal Office Robert Mbaziira has told the land probe commission that transactions inside Kayunga Central Forest Reserves were mistakenly approved by his office.     



Mbaziira, worked as the Senior Land Management Officer in the Zonal Office in 2013 when it was just created to oversee the management of land in Kayunga district.    



But Mbaziira told the land probe commission that his office was tricked by Mukono district surveyor to endorse applications seeking leases and freehold titles in the government central forest reserves. The transactions affected Bajjo Central Forest Reserve, Wamale Central Forest Reserve and Kiula Central Forest Reserves in Galiraaya Sub County.  




//Cue in; "I wouldn't know that… 


Cue out…. National Forestry Authority."//  



Some of the land titles have been transferred from those who acquired them to Sugar growing entities such as Kayunga Sugar and GM Sugar while others have been transferred to private individuals. 



He also cited influence from some army generals who applied for titles and members of the first family for giving away the Central Forest Reserves to private individuals.   



Mbaziira identified the generals in confidence to the commission saying he is afraid for his safety. He also revealed identities of some of the individuals who got titles in the land saying most of them have been cancelled following complaints lodged by Michael Mugisha, the then Executive Director of National Forestry Authority to the Commission in 2017.  



//Cue in; "There is an amendment….  


Cue out…to one Kajeke Wilfred."// 


Mbaziira says Mukono district surveyor George Musiitwa, the Kataibwa and Galiraaya Sub County area land committees should be held accountable for the parcelling of the central forest reserves. The other he said is National Forest Authority for failing to protect the reserve by titling it.   



According to Mbaziira, the Mukono district surveyor and the area land committees were responsible for making onsite inspections before making recommendations to the district land board to approve the transactions through the Ministerial Zonal Office.     



He said the Ministerial Zonal Office (MZO) and the Land Board approved the transactions on assumptions that they were outside central forest reserves since it is illegal to transact land in Central Forest Reserves when applications for the titles came before it.   


 
He explained that endorsement of the applications by the local council officials and the surveyor validated the transactions so much so that the district land board and his office had no other option than approve them.             



The Catherine Bamugemereire led Commission is probing the fraudulent land transactions, titling, survey and transfer of more than 40,000 Hectares of the Central Forest Reserves. Last week, the commission toured the affected forest reserves to hear from area residents and Kayunga Forest officials.  




During the visit, the Commission found heavy earth moving equipment clearing more sections of the reserves for sugarcane growing despite claims that the titles have been cancelled.        
Titles Acquired in Reserves.  




Mbaziira says he could not trace some of the title deeds attached to some of the files the Commission asked him to verify. He, however, identified few titles with their owners including Bugerere block 157 plot 2 at Kataibwa and Block 160 plot 2 measuring 700.1590 Ha registered in the names of K. Mirembe Joviah and Jane Nalubega registered on August 29th, 2014. It has been transferred to Wilfred Kajeke. 




The application was endorsed by Mulindwa Lameck, the secretary Kayunga district land board saying the Bajjo LC1 chairperson Stephen Mukasa recommended alongside his executives and that Galiraaya Sub County area land committee had inspected the land on January 29th 2013.     



The Commission heard that descendants of Yeyangane Yakobo, a resident of the Kasope parish in Kataibwa Sub County led by K. Mirembe Joviah and Jane Nalubega won the bid for the land after Kayunga Police OC CID recommended that they were the bonafide owners of the land.    



The others include Ahangarugaba, Kazoola Christine, K. Mirembe Joviah, Nalubega Jane, Komugisha Lillian, Komutesi Norah, Nakaddu Joviah, Lugajji Geoffrey, Munanura Emmanuel, Byanyima Geoffrey, Kamuhama Joviah and Mutungi Benon.    

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.