Over 500 families cry out over looming eviction after Entebbe Municipality fraudulently sells off land

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Over 500 families cry out over looming eviction after Entebbe Municipality fraudulently sells off land
Some of the affected families with their lawyer.

At least 500 families occupying a piece of land measuring 15 acres in Entebbe are on the risk of being evicted after the municipal council leased out the land to a third party without their knowledge.

According to lawyer Stanley Oketcho, from GEM Advocates, the affected families occupy Manyago Housing Estate, in Manyago village in Katabi town council, Entebbe Municipality in Wakiso district.

The lawyer explains that in 2020, the families entered into a consent judgement with Entebbe Municipal Council to give them leases on the said land as sitting tenants.

“Whereas the court in the consent judgement directed that the sitting tenants are the ones to take the first priority in buying the land, we have since established that Entebbe Municipal Council created another lease over the same piece of land which ordinarily would be going to the sitting tenants,” Oketcho said on Thursday.

The fraud

According to the lawyer, when court issued the consent judgement, it directed that the land be evaluated to ensue the sitting tenants know how much to pay.

Consequently, Entebbe Municipal Council wrote to the Chief Government Valuer to ascertain the value of the said land for purposes of implementing the consent judgement.

“In line with the consent judgement, this is to request for valuation of the estate plots to guide full implementation of the consent,” a letter by the then Entebbe Town Clerk, Aisha Kitenda to the Chief Government Valuer dated January, 16, 2023 reads in part.

Entebbe Municipal Council never got a response from the Chief Government Valuer on this matter.

However, in a turn of events, the families were astonished to learn that the land to which the  Chief Government Valuer refused to give valuation was fraudulently leased to a third party.

A search in the Ministry of Lands indicated that the same land had been leased by Entebbe Municipal Council to one Bugembe Kaggwa Ssegujja for a period of 49 years starting January, 20, 2023.

Documents also show that Ssegujja bought the land on lease for a paltry shs20 million as the premium and an annual rent of shs100,000.

Whereas Entebbe Municipal Council entered the consent judgement with the sitting tenants of Manyago Estate in 2020, the lease to Ssegujja by the Municipal Council shows it was entered in March, 2011.

It raises concern of how the municipal council entered a consent judgement with the tenants in 2020, many years after it had leased the same land to one Ssegujja.

Municipal council washes hands clean

However, a February, 2024 letter by the Town Clerk, Emmanuel Mugisha Gacharo indicates that there is no lease on the said land.

“According to our records, as guided by section 33 and 34 of the Physical Planning Act 2010 whereby an applicant for any form of development is supposed to apply for development permission,  we have not tracked any record that granted a lease on the said land,” Mugisha says.

Tenants cry out

The tenants say it beats their understanding that after injecting in huge sums of money into the said land, including renovating houses, the municipal council leased out their land without their consent yet in the consent judgement, it was clearly spelt out that they should be considered first.

“My husband used to work in the East African Meteorological department and we occupied the house on this land since then. Back then, we were asked to renovate them and that in case of selling them, we would be given the first priority. It now beats my understanding that the municipal council leased out the entire land to a third party and without my consent,” Joyce Okiror, a former public servant said.

Flavia Aliru shared similar sentiments saying she is fearing for the worst.

“We are living in fear of a looming eviction. They might come and evict us without being heard. The matter was taken to court and a decision was made but it beats our understanding that the municipal council has turned against us. We ask for the intervention of security,” Aliru said.

The tenants are now demanding that the Chief Government Valuer immediately gives valuations in regards the said land to enable them comply with the consent judgement.

“The existing and fraudulent lease created in favour of the third party should be surrendered and cancelled. We also want to sound a very strong warning to those intending to evict the tenants that we are aware of the first incident which was thwarted but we hereby put on notice to deceased from a similar act,” the tenants’ lawyers, Stanley Oketcho said.

Contacted for a comment on the matter, the lessee, Bugembe Kaggwa Ssegujja said he didn’t do anything wrong while getting the lease.

He said in case of any grievances, the sitting tenants ought to go back to court so it can enforce the consent judgement.

“There are procedures they can go through to resolve this matter but on my side, I didn’t do anything wrong. They should address their grievances with Entebbe Municipal Council. What I know is that municipal council went through the rightful channels before granting me the lease,” Ssegujja said.

Asked to explain the fears of the sitting tenants being evicted by him, Ssegujja allayed their fears.

“ I have never attempted to evict them and I don’t intend to do so.  I am not planning to do anything to them but I am planning to drag the municipal council which gave me lease to court for failure to allow me use my property.”

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