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On the spot: More trouble brews for Minister Amongi over Lira land

Lands minister Betty Amongi was in May at the centre of storm following what the public later decried as "harsh and unethical" probing by Land Probe Commission

LIRA–The Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Betty Amongi, stands to face yet another arduous probe by infamous Land Probe Commission after she was named in yet another land grabbing case–this time in Lira District.

Minister Amongi was in May grilled by the Land commission that is chaired by Catherine Bamugemereire, with the lady justice leaving the nation talking over her abrasive and spiteful manner of question.

In May, a two-day grilling of Amongi caught the attention of the public, with many accusing Lady Justice Bamugemereire of being “unethical and discourteous” to the minister over the manner she handled her probe.

At the time, Minister Amongi was accused of attempts to grab a number of prime properties in Kampala, including one claimed by Ugandans of Asian origin expelled by President Idi Amin in the 1970s.

But in her home district of Lira this time round, the Land Probe Commission sitting at the Council Hall on Friday received another six new cases related to land grabbing, one of which involves the minister.

According to the commission, they had received only six cases to be investigated before getting another six.

“Initially, we had only six cases reported to us for investigation but again we have received six more which will now require us to hold a public hearing as soon as possible to settle the grieved parties,” Commissioner Mary Oduka Ochan said.

Ochan said major land queries reported to them include Uganda Muslim Supreme Council land in Central Division, and a piece of land purportedly grabbed by Minister Amongi, also in central division.

“Here, today, the [community] just mentioned new cases like Lira airfield land, Lira regional referral hospital land, Lira coronation park land and the Mayor’s Garden, among others,” she added.

Minister Amongi did not respond to this news website when sought for a comment on the latest round of accusation levelled at her.

Florence Okello, popularly known as Imat Apuli, a produce dealer at Produce Lane in Lira town, told the commission that Lira airfield land was sold to them by Lira Municipal Council atShs3.6 million per plot.

“We did not come from the blue and found ourselves staying on that land, we bought it from the municipal council officials and I have my signed document here,” she said.

Lira Resident District Commissioner Robert Abak condemned the high level of connivance involving technocrats and politicians in the municipal council and some private individuals, saying it was the major cause of land saga in Lango sub-region.

“There is always underlying role why these matters are going up. One of them is that our technocrats, some of them are not trusted including some politicians and it’s why they are losing some of these lands,” Abak told the Commission whose head Bamugemereire was absent.

“It’s not that these people come from nowhere to grab….they use us in offices. A case in point is the municipal council. One would wonder how one can sit for a meeting and say civil aviation land be given to private developers,” Abak, who was at the time of appropriation of the said land not the Lira RDC, said.

Abak appealed to the commission to speed up their investigation and hold a public dialogue so that the real culprits can be brought to order.

Apac district was commission’s next destination where they are expected to meet the community who will serve them with illicit land dealings in the district.

A public hearing, cross-examination and arrest are scheduled for next month in Lira town.

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