A Dubai-based Ugandan businesswoman has accused Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire of grabbing her island in Lake Victoria.
Jane Ssenfuka and her daughter, Katrina Nanfuka, made the allegation in a petition filed with the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led Land commission of inquiry in May. They accused the minister of fraudulently acquiring Nyenda Island on block 64 plot 1 Kyaggwe Buvuma.
Measuring 196.68 hectares, the island is registered as a freehold land under the names of Janmer Investments Ltd in which Jane and Katrina are majority shareholders; each holding 49 shares while her husband, David Senfuka holds two shares.
Jane suspects that her husband connived with Otafiire, his long term business partner, to fraudulently change the island’s ownership.
“Sometime this year, we carried out a search at Mukono land office and found that the island had been transferred without our knowledge and authority from the names of our company into the names of Hon Kahinda Otafiire,” Jane’s petition partly reads.
Otafiire was allegedly contacted by Jane’s husband, David, to broker the sale of the island to some European investor who had promised to pay $10 million (Shs 38.5bn).
To Jane and her daughter’s surprise, before the transaction could be concluded, the title had changed names from Janmer investments Ltd to Kahinda Otafiire’s name, and later on transferred into the names of Evelyn Caroline Ankunda, a daughter to the minister.
“We have tried to get documents relating to this transaction from Mukono land office but we have failed to get the file. It is for the minister to explain how he acquired the island; whether he bought it or it was a gift, and, he should bring documents in support of his transaction,” Jane stated.
She was alerted by the disappearance of the land title from their Dubai home at Villa 30, Street 7, Spring 7. How the land title got into Otafiire’s hands is still a mystery.
David could have smuggled it out since he is the other person who had access to the safe where the title among other valuable documents were kept. The family bought the island on August 6, 2003 from Hajji Kasim Ramadhan of Bombo who had himself bought it from its first registered owner, Apollo Mukasa Kironde.
Interviewed, Otafiire told The Observer that this was a business transaction “gone bad.” “Have you ever heard of a business deal gone bad? That was a transaction that went bad,” Otafiire said without elaborating.
He, however, claimed to have acquired the island through proper procedures. “It was a transaction between me and a company called Janmer which is a legal entity. Companies can transact business through their representatives,” the minister said.
Otafiire said that he does not know Jane but admitted knowing David, her husband, with whom he made the transaction.
“If Jane Ssenfuka has any claims, she should claim against her husband not me. I paid my money to get that island; I transacted business with a company not individuals,” Otafiire said.
According to Jane, their company decided to sell the island in September 2017.
“Otafiire claims to hold powers of attorney but can’t explain who gave him the powers to act on behalf of the company because its three directors have never sat to agree to give him the powers of attorney,” Jane said.