By Yosam Gucwaki
The High Court in Masindi today didn’t deliver the judgement in the case between National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the Omukama of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Solomon Gafabusa Iguru due to the absence of the presiding judge.
National Forestry Authority (NFA) dragged the Bunyoro King and Hoima Sugar to high court in 2016 for alleged encroachment and degradation on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima District.
The NFA also accuses the king of fraudulent concealment when he allegedly silently applied for a freehold title for part of the forest which was granted by the Uganda Land Commission (ULC).
The Masindi High Court was supposed to deliver judgment today but according to Counsel Robert Irumba of Tumusiime Irumba & Co. advocates who represented the king, the Assistant registrar Simon Kintu Ziruntusa told them that Justice Rugadya Albert Atwooki who was supposed to deliver the judgement stepped down without giving reasons.
Irumba added that the registrar told them that the judgment will be delivered by another judge on the 18th January 2019.
The Omukama is jointly sued with Hoima Sugar Ltd and ULC. The forestry authority is seeking a court declaration that the king’s stay and utilization of the forest reserve is illegal and amounts to trespass.
The land under dispute is located on Plot 216, Buhanguzi Block 2, Hoima held by Hoima Sugar Ltd.
The Omukama denies the allegations. The kingdom contends that the disputed part of the forest is an ancestral place of Kyangwali, which forms the original seat of the kingdom headquarters, and is not part of Bugoma.