Chairperson to the commission investigating into land matters, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has ordered for the detention of the Nakaseke district Senior Land Management Officer, Mr. Geoffrey Tumusiime to assist with investigations into his alleged connivance with influential government officials to fraudulently acquire land in Nakaseke.
The commission understands that in 2014 during a survey of government land measuring to 36 square miles in Kinyogoga sub-county Nakaseke district which currently is occupied by Kaweweta army barracks, part of it was deliberately left out.
It is this remaining one and a half (1.5) square miles that would later be leased out to groups of army veterans and civil servants without due diligence being done by the district land board.
In his testimony while appearing before the probe committee on Tuesday, Tumusiime testified that the said beneficiaries legitimately applied for land titles, saying; “I don’t find any problem with people holding land in common. People prefer this method because it is cheaper.”
However, Commissioners questioned why he didn’t deem it appropriate to investigate the circumstances under which these individuals had acquired the land especially given the positions they held in the district.
Enock Nyongore, a former district Speaker; Fred Rwabirinda, the district secretary for production, a Brig. Kazoora who commands the Kaweweta barracks, Capt. Serwanga I.O Nakaseke barracks, a private surveyor and an association of army veterans are part of those who shared the square mile.
Tumusiime is also faulted for not consulting with the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) to establish whether the land in question was under its control since an army barracks was sitting on it.
“I regret not contacting ULC,” he admitted.
Interestingly, a one Ephraim Komukuri who was a member of the Area Land Committee which approved the transaction was also the Chairman of the NRA Kinyogoga Veteran Association and therefore had interest in the land.
Despite this glaring conflict of interest, Tumusiime never saw any red flag but told the commission it was an oversight.
“Since 2014 to date, no single person has ever come claiming ownership of the same land. Besides, I had seen a certified deed plan from the Entebbe land office. My stand is that those who applied for the land are the rightful owners,” Tumusiime said in defense.
But according to Bamugemereire, the land that Tumusiime considers to have rightful owners had in the same period been occupied by over 20 households.
Some of the affected residents petitioned to the IGG after their attempts to apply to the District Land Board for titles were persistently frustrated.
The same people lodged a complaint to the Bamugemereire commission.
“People who are complaining say that approximately 1.5 square miles of land amounting to 175 hectares was declared as residue by your good friends the surveyors to whom you send everybody,” Bamugemereire said.
“There were some applicants including Nasolo, Rwemirembe and other 20 families that were sitting on the land meaning they were already occupying the land.
Are all persons equal before the law? Were these people too insignificant to be considered or given audience by the Land Board?” Bamugemereire grilled Tumusiime before asking the security to escort him to out.
He was taken to Wandegeya Police Station where he will record a statement and provide any other relevant information that will assist the probe in its investigations.