Businessman Jackson Twinamasiko has appealed to Lands state minister Sam Mayanja to intervene in his protracted land battle with UPDF soldier Maj Mark Wanyama.
The two are contesting for a seven-acre piece of land is Block 494, Plot 9 located at Mbeya island, Mukono district. The battle for the land is so vicious that several people have sustained life-threatening injuries on top of destruction of property on the land.
Twinamasiko says many of his workers are nursing lifetime deformities as a result of torture from security personnel and that he has tried all legal means to secure his land in Mukono to no avail and instead he has been harassed by soldiers and persecuted in courts.
“I have reached out to virtually every office in the country but little effort is being done yet the matter of my land has turned deadly,” he says.
“I have seen Hon Mayanja traverse the country to help settle land disputes. I believe he can also help me get quiet possession of my land.”
Recently, Mukono chief magistrate Peace Elizabeth Lumunu released Twinamasiko on bail in a case in which Wanyama accuses him of vandalism and allegedly trespassing on the contested land. In November 2022, Mukono police and the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Fatumah Ndisaba convened a security meeting about the contested land.
Attended by Regional Police Commander Bob Kagarura, former MP Michael Kabaziguruka, Maj Wanyama, and regional CID Musa Zziwa and others, it was deliberated that police and the office of the RDC take over the land until the matter is disposed of in court. However, Twinamasiko was later nabbed and charged under the watch of police and the RDC’s office.
Speaking to The Observer recently, Ndisaba acknowledged the meeting happened and deliberations were made, but she declined to delve into details.
“I don’t want to be involved in those issues. Those two individuals have a lot of cases in the court. I can’t give you more details since the matter is in court,” she said.
Interviewed for this story, Maj Wanyama defended the charges against Twinamasiko.
“The DPP cannot charge you when there are no facts. You cannot trespass on your land. He was supposed to be charged in January but the DPP sat on the file for more than six months,” he said.
Early this year, Twinamasiko petitioned President Museveni, accusing Wanyama of grabbing his land and lodging trumped-up charges against him.
The Observer has seen a sale agreement dated April 6, 2019, that indicates that Wanyama bought 16 acres from USA-based Francis Tyaba at Shs 9m per acre, through Joyce Lutaaya, who had his powers of attorney. In total, he paid Shs 144 million. Another sale agreement dated November 6, 2019, between Twinamasiko and Lutaaya indicates that he bought seven acres at Shs 10m per acre, at Shs 70m.
The transaction was to be paid in two installments and the last installment was supposed to be effected before the end of November 2019. Among other terms was that upon payment of the first installment, Twinamasiko would take possession of the land and begin utilizing it.
He paid the first installment of Shs 20 million through Standard Chartered bank to an account number in the name of Nino Botique as details were provided by Lutaaya. November 20, 2019, Twinamasiko paid the balance of Shs 50 million through the same bank.
However, on November 24, 2019, Twinamasiko says he received a call from Bank of Africa informing him that Shs 70 million had been wired on his company account under the name of COEF Limited. Lutaaya claimed that she had reportedly changed her mind about selling that land.
On November 26, 2019, Twinamasiko dragged Tyaba and Lutaaya to court challenging the status quo. On November 27, 2019, Twinamasiko secured an interim order restraining the respondents, their servants, agents, employees, or anybody claiming under his/their title from selling, alienating, transferring, subdividing or in any other way interfering with the contested land until hearing and final determination of the main suit.
In the midst of all this, Lutaaya afterwards sold the same seven acres to Wanyama on December 19, 2019, and Wanyama applied for the land title that he got it in January 2020.
However, due to the interim order, the ministry of Lands canceled the title in November 2022 on grounds it was issued in error. In-between the fight for the land, Twinamasiko was forced off the land and in the several bloody battles that followed, many of his workers were beaten to near-death by security operatives.
Ironically, Lutaaya has never recorded a statement with police to clarify on the situation in spite of several efforts. A senior police officer investigating the matter who prefers anonymity claims Lutaaya is being shielded by Wanyama and other high-ranking UPDF officers who intimidate the police to back off.
“The matter started at Mukono police station, then Jinja Road police station, then Kampala Metropolitan Police Eastern Region before it reached our desk here at Kibuli CID headquarters but we have all failed to interrogate that woman who is at the centre of the conflict,” said the officer.
“We have no doubt she is being protected by some unscrupulous army officers to sabotage investigations.”
The matter is still in court and it remains to be seen whether Minister Sam Mayanja will intervene or how the whole situation unfolds.