The government is leading an initiative to reconstruct St Peter's church, Ndeeba which was recently razed after an ownership dispute spanning more than 40 years.
President Yoweri Museveni committed to reconstruct the church during an impromptu visit to the site on Friday morning, describing the demolition as unfortunate and uncalled for. Museveni said that such an act can only be undertaken by people who have no respect for God's temple and that whoever conspired to do it "will die with a curse."
“I promise you that this church will be rebuilt,” the president said sending the gathering into excitement. He also called for thorough investigations against all people involved in the demolition right from the judge who handled the matter to the officers who executed the court order.
He added that judges should have limits and understand public interest. He, however, added that even if the court decision is found to have been right, the government will acquire the land and hand it over to the church and that Dodoviko Mwanje, the businessman pinpointed for demolishing the church, will be brought to book.
“I know this man, he had built his wealth from several contracts given to him to repair and servicing army vehicles. But it seems is now misusing his wealth, we will get him,” Museveni added.
Several people including the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Dr Steven Kaziimba Mugalu had already made an outcry appealing to the government to help the church reconstruction as the area parishioners had started fundraising to for the same. Rev Augustine Kayemba, the vicar of St Peter’s church, Ndeeba noted the pronouncement itself has already reinstated hope among the parishioners.
The church structure in question was razed in the wee hours of Monday morning invoking widespread fury and emotions from different members of the public. However, the demolition was just the peak of the long land ownership battle between the Church of Uganda and the joint administrators of the estate of the late Evelyn Nachwa, a Buganda kingdom princess.
The paper trail indicates that the court ruled on the matter of the ownership of the land, indicating that it had been fraudulently registered in the names of Bishop Danistan Nsubuga, Rev. Yuda Kitaka, and Esau Kizito, thus ordering the church to vacate.
Before his visit, several religious leaders including the Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and his Orthodox counterpart, Metropolitan Yona Lwanga had visited the place condemning the rampant grabbing of land belonging to religious institutions.
17 people, among which are senior police commanders, were on Thursday evening charged in court in connection to the demolition of the said church. The court has also issued a criminal summon to city businessman Dodoviko Mwanje.