City lawyer Richard Buzibira is on the spot for fraudulently receiving over Shs 1.47 billion of his client from the Land Fund. Buzibira reportedly used the letters of attorney from his client, Teddy Nansubuga, a farmer from Kibaale district to process and receive her compensation money from the Uganda Land Commission (ULC).
Buzibira reportedly took advantage of Nansubuga's illiteracy to defraud over Shs 1.2 billion having paid her only Shs 270 million of the Shs 1.47 billion paid by the Land Fund.
While appearing before the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission on Friday last week, Nansubuga, explained that she and her late uncle, Raphael Kulumba approached Buzibira at his Kampala based office to help her to reclaim compensation from government for Block 223, Plot 1 Buyaga and Block 224, Plot 1 Buyaga - totalling to 254.2 hectares.
"I surrendered my two land titles and we made an agreement that I had given him the titles to help me process compensation from government." Nansubuga told the Commission in Lunyoro.
Nansubuga explained that she signed several documents drafted by Buzibira that were translated to her by Dennis Musinguzi, a surveyor from Kibaale district she found in the lawyer's office.
The Commission's deputy lead counsel John Bosco Suuza explained to Nansubuga that the document she signed was not an agreement but powers of attorney. Buzibira asked Nansubuga why she went to Buzibira instead of Uganda Land Commission where government compensations are processed.
Nansubuga explained that she used Buzibira as her lawyer because she didn't know how to go about the compensation process. According to Suuza, after signing off the powers of attorney, Buzibira made Nansubuga to sign an application form for compensation from the Land Fund on May 27, 2015.
Nansubuga says she waited for the compensation in vain and repeatedly called Buzibira without success. According to Nansubuga, after a long wait Buzibira met her and asked her whether she would accept to sell the land to an individual.
Nansubuga said she accepted the offer since she was in desperate need of money and sold Block 223, Plot 1 Buyaga and Block 224, Plot 1 Buyaga to a one, Warren Mwesigye at Shs 80 million and Shs 190 million respectively. She explained to the Commission that prior to the transaction, she had never met Mwesigye and only met him when Buzibira called her to his office.
Nansubuga also explained that despite signing the sale agreement; she was not given any copies. Suuza asked Nansubuga whether Buzibira updated on the fate of her earlier application for compensation from government after the land was sold to Mwesigye.
In her response, Nansubuga said she didn't receive any information from Buzibira about the government compensation. She also denied received any compensation from government for the land in question.
Suuza explained that documents before the Commission show that before Nansubuga signed off the Powers of Attorney on October 27, 2015 authorizing Buzibira to pursue compensation from government, he received Shs 200 million from the Land Fund on July 24, 2015 in Nansubuga's name.
He explained that Buzibira continued picked money in seven instalments from the Land Fund ranging between Shs 50 million and 200 million on different dates in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Suuza told Nansubuga that Buzibira has so far received Shs 650 million compensation for Block 223 Plot 1 Buyaga and Shs 821 million for Block 224, Plot 1 Buyaga.
"For Block 223 Plot 1, Mr Buzibira on your behalf has been given Shs 650 million, if you subtract the Shs 80 million that Warren Mwesigye gave you, you have been conned of Shs 570 million so far. The land has been valued at Shs 650 million. For Block 224 Plot 1, the land was valued at Shs 821 million which has all been received by Buzibira on your behalf. If you subtract the Shs 190 million they paid, there’s a balance of Shs 631 million." said Suuza.
When asked by Suusa whether she was surprised at what the "white collar thieves have done" to her, Nansubuga said that she was shocked and surprised by the revelations but had nothing to do.
"Yes my lord am surprised and shocked but I have nothing to do." she said.
Suuza also read out a November 23, 2016 letter authored by the Lands minister Betty Amongi addressed to the chairperson Uganda Land Commission authorising the urgent payment of compensation to 8 people including Nansubuga who was third on the list.
Amongi's letter was reportedly based on a directive from the principal private secretary to the president, Molly Kamukama. Asked whether she ever approached the president or Kamukama for assistance, Nansubuga said she didn't.
Suuza pinned Buzibira for conspiring and taking advantage of Nansubuga and conning her millions of shillings.
"These thugs, these thieves they took advantage of you - a poor lady with limited education and exposure. They lied to you and they conned you out of all those millions that I have told you. Not only that, they used your name and went to the highest office in the land and claimed to be acting on your behalf. Somewhere along the way a minister [Betty Amongi] got involved. More money was paid in your name and you know nothing about it, which is tragic." he said.
While appearing before the Land Commission last month, the Commission quizzed Buzibira over his involvement in the questionable land deal, failure to act professionally, conspiracy to defraud and other criminal acts.
It came after lawyers under Frank Tumusiime and Company Advocates were implicated for fraudulently acquiring more than Shs 16 billion meant to compensate 20 claimants from the Land Fund under Uganda Land Commission (ULC).
Buzibira then admitted that some of the clients instructed him through his law firm while others contacted him personally to handle all the processes on their behalf.
"We began receiving instructions for the Land Fund in 2013 and I acted as an agent and advocate. The clients came on referral basing on the number of cases I had handled. The money was paid quarterly in installments and the vouchers show that Shs 13.3 billion has since been paid and balances in the range of Shs 5 billion is still pending," Buzibira told the Commission.
The Land Fund was established under Section 41 of the Land Act. The fund is a multi-purpose resource envelope meant to serve targeted beneficiaries, including tenants seeking to buy or own land, government seeking to buy land for redistribution to bonafide occupants or resettlement of the landless among others.