Over 2,000 residents in Mukono petition Museveni to save them from land eviction

Residents in Mukono district have petitioned President Museveni to intervene and stop one Nicholas Kabagambe from evicting them and destroying their properties.

The locals who are from the villages of Makukuba, Nkulagirire and Kaabulo in the sub-county of Nabbale also petitioned the Minister of Lands and Urban Development Minister Judith Nabakooba over the same matter.

The resident who number over 2,000 have accused Kabagambe of tormenting them since 2019 with the help of security personnel.

According to the residents, Kabagambe acquired the land which measures over 680 acres from the family of the late Andrew Guludene. It is alleged that with the help of officials at the Mukono district land offices, Kabakagambe secured a freehold title on the said land and told them to leave or be forced to do so.

Things got bloody when a resident identified as Hakim Ssendagire was shot in the leg as he was trying to save his cows from some unknown “hooligans” who were trying to confiscate them from his 70-acre kibanja. 

Ssendagire says his attackers, who he claimed to be from Kabagambe’s cattle farm in the area, cut down over 1,000 trees on his kibanja, poisoned 20 cows, and killed 200 goats on his farm.

Although Ssendagire survived the attack, he limps up to date. This prompted the then Lands minister Beti Kamya to write to the RDC of Mukono imploring him to stop this brutality and evictions.

However, just this month, the residents were once again attacked by people who claim to be working for Kabagambe and they destroyed their crops including banana plantations, coffee, eucalyptus trees and sugar canes.

According to available records, the land under contention is part of Kabaka’s 350 square miles land estate which was returned to Buganda in 1993.

The spokesperson of Buganda Land Board, Denis Bugaya said indeed this is Kabaka’s land.

He explained that when some of the residents of the said villages reached out, the board immediately petitioned the ministry of Lands to cancel Kabagambe’s land title because it was acquired illegally.

Bugaya noted that no one can obtain a freehold title on top of Kabaka’s official mailo, adding that it was wrong for Mukono district to offer such a title to someone else when they are aware that this is Kabaka’s land.

Kabagambe has, however, said that the land belongs to him because he acquired it through legal means and no one will stop him from utilising his land.

In 1980, one Andrew Guluddene got a 49-year lease on the land from Uganda Land Commission at a time when the land was under the administration of government, having been confiscated by the Milton Obote government from Buganda in 1966.

When the land was returned to Buganda in 1993, Guluddene took his lease title to Buganda Land Board in 2001 for variation and he started paying annual ground rent to Buganda Land Board.

However, when Guluddene died, his children; Mulindwa George, Sebidde Robert, Lilian Nakintu Guludene and Mercy Guludene colluded with Nicholas Kabagambe and fraudulently changed the tenure of his title from leasehold to freehold.

They changed the title from leasehold to freehold and after undertaking the said fraud, they purportedly sold the “fraudulent” freehold title to Nicholas Kabagambe.

Immediately after the illegal freehold title was transferred to Kabagambe, he started to violently evict bibanja holders on the land, destroying their property, crops and injuring many in the process.

In 2018, a similar scenario played out in Kigaya-Golomolo, Buikwe district when then youth minister Ronald Kibuule vowed to evict residents until he was stopped by the Buganda Land Board. The board petitioned the ministry of lands who subsequently cancelled Kibuule’s illegal title.

Many people get freehold titles through district land boards and use them to evict lawful bibanja holders. Government is accused of being reluctant in stopping this practice which has caused so much suffering to ordinary people especially those in villages.

Experts warn that if the habit of ‘rich’ fraudulently acquiring freehold titles from districts and using the same to evict hapless people doesn’t stop, the country will face a problem of landless people, famine and possible insecurity.

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