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Court trashes Bamugemereire order against land compensation payments

In yet another setback to the commission of inquiry into land, the civil division of the High Court has quashed Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s order which had had put a plug on payment of billions of shillings in compensation to businessmen by the Uganda Land Commission (ULC).

Mid this year, the Bamugemereire-led commission instructed Baguma Isoke, ULC’s chairman to halt any payment from the Land Fund to claimants including Robert Mwesigwa through his company, American Procurement Company (Amproc Inc) pending conclusion of the commission’s investigations into alleged dubious payments.

The land inquiry had ruled that payment should be made directly to the landlords who sold their interests in the various plots of land located in Kyaggwe, the two Buganda lost counties: Buyaga and Bugangayizi to the businessmen.

Nevertheless, the head of the civil division court Justice Andrew Bashaija, tore to pieces the land commission’s directive and prohibited the officials of Finance ministry, ULC and any other government department from implementing the said recommendation.

“A permanent injunction doth issue restraining any government department or official or any commission of inquiry from interfering with compensation as directed by court relating to land in issue or any other plot of land which is subject of court judgment or order,” the court ruled.

The judge also quashed a decision by the Inspector General of Government to investigate compensation by ULC as well as compensation for the said land having been ordered by court.

Court ruling

Court ruled that the land inquiry order invariably interferes with the independence of the judiciary.

“It cannot be overemphasised that the Commission of inquiry has no mandate whatsoever to issue orders contrary to court orders or judgments over the same subject matter.

The commission of inquiry is not a court of law. By ordering payment to persons other than the one ordered by court, the commission of inquiry overstepped its mandate and as such acted illegally,” the court ruled.

Justice Bashaija further ordered: “An order of prohibition doth issue prohibiting the Ministry of Finance officials, the ULC and any other government department or official from implementing the recommendation, decision or order of the commission of inquiry contained in a letter dated August 2, to the chairman ULC from the said commission of inquiry directing that compensation be paid to the landlords.”

Recently three individuals dashed to the constitutional court challenging the commissions’ powers; saying that it has gone beyond its limits and terms of reference.

Eria Mubiru, Vivian Keza and Peninah Busingye Kabingani who filed the petition are the individuals who obtained a judgment from High court judge Godfrey Namundi ordering that about one square mile that is part of Kajjansi central forest reserve belonged to them simply because they have land titles over the land

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