Kampala High Court has made a landmark ruling, declaring “illegal” an order stopping Uganda Land Commission (ULC) from paying businessman Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari Shs3.7b under the Uganda Land Fund.
The Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission of inquiry into land matters had ordered ULC to pay landlords in compensation of their land contrary to an earlier High Court order which required government to pay Mr Mwesigwa.
According to court documents, Mr Mwesigwa, under his American Procurement Company (AMPPROC) had entered a consent agreement with city pastor Daniel Walugembe for government to pay the former his money, forming part of the compensation for land in Buyaga and Bugangaizi in Kyaggwe.
High Court Judge, Dr Andrew Bashaija quashed the land inquiry directive to the ULC to pay directly to the landlords saying that it was contrary to a high court decision.
“An order of prohibition doth issue prohibiting the Ministry of Finance officials, the ULC and any other government department or official from implementing the recommendation, decision or order of the commission of inquiry contained in a letter dated August 2, 2018 to the Chairman ULC from the said commission of inquiry directing that compensation be paid to the landlords,” the judge ordered.
The land inquiry made the directive stopping the ULC from further paying AMPROC among other claimants who had bought interests from the landlords following complaints that the land fund payments were marred with irregularities.
But Justice Bashaija, in quashing the land inquiry directive prohibited the Finance Ministry officials, ULC officials and any other government department from implementing the recommendation.
“A permanent injunction doth issue restraining any government department or official or any commission of inquiry from interfering with compensation as directed by court relating to land in issue or any other plot of land which is subject of court judgment or order,” the court ruled.
The judge also quashed a decision by the Inspector General of Government to investigate compensation by ULC in issue for being illegal as well as compensation for land having been ordered by court closed the matter as “res judicata” (a matter that has been adjudicated by a competent court and therefore may not be pursued further by the same parties).
The ruling comes as a result of an application filed by Dan Walugembe, a land dealer who was challenging a decision by the Justice Bamugemereire Commission which in an August 2, 2018, letter to the Uganda Land Commission, directed that the ULC should not pay Mr Walugembe compensation for his land but rather pay it to the land lords in question.
Mr Walugembe was receiving payment from the ULC in respect of land comprised in Kyaggwe Block 358 Plot 2, Buyaga Bloc 161 Plot 4, Buyaga Blok 305 Plot 2, Bugangaizi Block 136 Plot 1 and Buyaga Block 318 Plot 2.
The said application was filed against the landlords who also sought the same compensation. However Court ruled that the compensation be paid to Walugembe through his lawyers M/s Bashasha & Co. Advocates.
The Justice Bamugemereire Commission in March 2018 probed Mr Walugembe over his involvement in what they called questionable land transactions.
A one Elizabeth Musoke ran to the land commission claiming that Walugembe had sold her family land measuring approximately 507 acres to the ULC without consent.
According to evidence before the commission, Walugembe had purportedly duped the ULC to pay him Shs2.5b over land which he had no claim.
Walugembe maintained his innocence, saying he had rightfully bought the land from the Musoke family and therefore was selling what was rightfully his.