Moses Karangwa, the ruling NRM chairman for the central district of Kayunga, is embroiled in yet another land dispute with a dead man’s family.
The family is accusing the NRM boss of attempting to grab more than 328.1 hectares in Mubende district. The land in question is part of the 642.85 hectares comprised on Plot 28 Ssingo Block 489 FRV 1101 Folio 23, which belonged to the late Josephat Lubega.
Lubega leased the land from the Uganda Land Commission in 1972 but on his death in 1986, he had not acquired the title for the land save for its map printouts.
It was then that his children, led by the heir Charles Masengere embarked on the process of acquiring the title. They were stopped by the Land office in Mityana after disagreements arose over the land’s demarcations.
“It was then that we discovered that the estate’s caretaker, Antonio Kasozi, had leased part of the land to some cattle keepers led by Godfrey Kabagambe,” said Francis Lubega, a son to the late Josephat Lubega.
He further alleges that Kabagambe connived with the Mityana land registry to subdivide the land and created Plot 39 measuring about 200 hectares. Masengere successfully challenged the subdivision before the Mityana Magistrate’s court. But on appeal Nakawa High Court Judge Margaret Aumo Oguli overturned the Magistrate court’s decision on grounds that Kabagambe had lawfully acquired the land on September 15, 1996.
As Masengere appealed Oguli’s ruling, his siblings acquired freehold ownership over part of the land measuring 250 hectares but the process of issuing the titles in 2013 was halted by the former commissioner for land registry, Sarah Kulata.
This was after a lady; Jackie Kobusingye laid claim to the same land. She presented a title that showed she owned land comprised on Plot 28 Ssingo Block 490. Kulata reportedly referred the matter to the commissioner of surveys and mapping who on November 5, 2013 wrote to the Mubende district staff surveyor to investigate the clash in ownership.
On November 18, 2013, the Mubende district staff surveyor, George Omini, wrote back pointing to a case of forgery in the creation of Kobusingye’s title since Ssingo Block 490 appeared in the records as Bugyayo and Butugo estates not Block 489 in the Katabutimbo estate that Lubega’s children were claiming.
“The last plot number on this block is 16. There is no plot 28 found on this block. The two blocks [490 and 489] are quite a distance apart,” Omini wrote.
Omini said the Mubende Land Office had never handled the file for the land Kobusingye was claiming ownership of.
“I/S V/0156 which surveyed this [land] indicates that the job was plotted by Mr Omini on January 13, 1992 and forwarded by Mr Okiringi on July 14, 1992. In the year 1992, Mr Omini was cartographer for Masaka Lands office and not Mityana. He has never worked with Mr Okiringi although the two know each other. Mubende Land office where Mr Omini is now a cartographer was not in existence in 1992; it was established in 2007,” Omini wrote.
Omini further stated that Kobusingye’s title was not in the records of the Mubende land office.
“The title for [Michael] Kamoga and others [the late Lubega’s children] is the true print made by Mubende land office and falls in the right location on Ssingo Block 489, Katabutimbo estate,” Omini wrote.
He went on to protest the way his name was used to forge the titles.
“There is a lot of forgery sensed in the way Mr Omini was used to sign jobs of 1992 when he was actually not in Mityana or Mubende offices. This forgery is seen from the time the J.R.J was compiled by the field surveyor who is now dead, the plotting and forwarding of the job to Entebbe,” Omini stated.
The late Lubega’s children eventually acquired the land titles, which however, opened them to a new fight, this time against the powerful NRM chairman for Kayunga district. According to documents obtained from the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), Kobusingye is Karangwa’s associate, both being directors in a company, Ven Group Ltd, which was incorporated in 2015.
Interviewed on June 1, Karangwa denied any interest in the land but said he went in to help his nephew, Kabagambe.
“I am Kabagambe’s uncle, he complained to me that some people wanted to steal his land and I went in to help,” Karangwa said.
But several correspondences between the Mubende Land office, Mubende district administration, Ministry of Lands and the late Lubega’s family mention companies such as Ven Group, Kaleba Investment Limited and Star React Security Guard Limited where Karangwa is a major shareholder.
For instance, on November 19, 2018, Mary Jesca Nankabirwa, the secretary for Mubende district land board, forwarded to the commissioner, land registry a petition in which Lubega’s family was accusing Kaleba Investment Limited of “illegally/fraudulently acquiring titles over their land.”
It is alleged that Karangwa went ahead and evicted them from the land with support from police and security guards from his company, Star react security guard Ltd.
“You need to talk to Kabagambe to explain why those companies got involved,” Karangwa said, also denying that he has security guards deployed on the land.
Karangwa also described Lubega’s family as thieves who are claiming a property that does not belong to them.
“Those are thieves, they are thugs. They sold the land to Kabagambe but they don’t want to leave. If you sell, you must get out,” Karangwa said.