The Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters is investigating allegations that former Minister in charge of Economic Monitoring Henry Banyenzaki grabbed a five-acre piece of land in Kampala from a city pastor.
In a petition before the Commission headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, Pastor Peter Sande Odong accuses Mr Banyenzaki of irregularly acquiring the land comprising Miami Beach on the shores of Lake Victoria in Luzira, Nakawa Division.
Pastor Odong, in the petition, claims that in 2012, the former minister acquired the disputed land from a group of veterans who grabbed it from him under the guise of removing the water hyacinth.
He says since then, Mr Banyenzaki has refused to give him back the land and in the process, he has lost Shs1.5 billion in business.
Pastor Odong states that he inherited the land from his deceased father, Albert Ocaya, a former Ship Captain under Uganda railways who had lived there since 1970s.
“We used to cultivate as a family and it was ten acres. In 1992, I started bricklaying project and I brought surveyors from then Kampala City Council who instead shared five acres but I remained with the portion but I was advised to get a permit but upon acquiring the permit, it has been running battles to date,” he claims.
He says despite several efforts to seek assistance from the authorities, including the Police, City authorities, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the army as well as the President’s office, he has been deprived access to the land.
“My worry is that this matter is likely to stall because top government officials have frustrated every effort I take to have justice in this matter yet I lost business and even the grabbers instead sold the beach.”
Mr Banyenzaki was in June named among individuals and companies owning land tiles in a central forest reserve and wetlands. At a fact-finding tour of Luzira and Kinawataka wetlands in June, the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters heard that the disputed titles were acquired between 2012 and 2014 by Ministry of Lands officials.
However, he later appeared before the Commission and denied the allegations. He told the commission that his land is adjacent to the lake shore and not in a wetland.