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Parliament Endorses Retirement Of Uganda Land Commissioners In Public Interest

The Adhoc Committee of parliament, which has been investigating the distribution of 82.05 acres of Nakawa-Naguru land has recommended the retirement of the Uganda Land Commission-ULC commissioners in the public interest.

The affected commissioners include the Chairperson, Byenkya Nyakaisiki, Prof. Pen-Mogi Nyeko, Asuman Kyafu, Stella Achan, Augustine Rukiika Rujara, Charles Muhoozi, Tom Kasenge Byamugisha and Medina Nsereko as members. The Uganda Public Service Standing Orders provide for the retirement of public officers in the public interest.

In this case, the appointing authority asks the affected officer to relinquish his or her office as a disciplinary measure, which doesn’t merit dismissal. The officer is entitled to retirement benefits in accordance with the Pensions Act. The Committee has also recommended that the ULC Secretary, Barbara Imaryo, and the Commissioners be held accountable for irregularities surrounding the allocation of the land.

Trouble for the commission officials started in January 2022, when they revised earlier allocations of land at Nakawa-Naguru. They went ahead to allocate 15 acres to the Internal Medicine of Virginia, 10 acres to Uganda Heart Institute, 3.09 acres to KCCA Nakawa Division offices, 1 acre to Naguru Infant Primary School, 1.05 acres to St. Peters Church of Uganda, 2 acres to Ntinda Whole Sellers 2 acres and others.

Anil Damani got 3 acres, Seven Hills Apartments 4 acres, Arab Oil Supplies, and Exploration Limited 4 acres, Dashen (U) Limited 3 acres, Dembe Enterprises Limited 3 acres, Dominion Partners Limited 1 acre, EACOM International Limited 1 acre, and Rudra Hardware 4 acres among others.

However, the speaker of parliament, Anita Among set up an Adhoc committee to investigate the re-allocation exercise when complaints emerged about the exercise. On Wednesday, the committee chairperson, Dan Kimosho presented the committee findings to Parliament indicating that ULC commenced the reallocation process based on three categories namely presidential directives, ministerial directives, third parties with development, and residual land for fresh applicants.

He also noted that the ULC came up with specific criteria that would be followed by the applicants for the land. These involved proof of legal existence of the company or partnership, particulars of directors, annual audited accounts, experience in handling similar projects, governance of company structures, business plan for the development of the land, proof of tax compliance, proof of source of funding and submission of support documentation for the applications.

However, the report notes that “The committee observed that ULC did not follow its own set criteria in allocating the Naguru land. The documents from some of the applicants reviewed did not comply with the set parameters.” The none complaints companies, which benefited from the reallocation exercise according to Kimosho included Internal Medicine of Virginia PC, Phaneroo Ministries, Arab Oil Supplies and Exploration, and Master Links Uganda Ltd.

Parliament also learnt that Phaneroo Ministries has no experience in handling similar projects and no proof of source of funding and that it’s a company limited by guarantee and not permitted to do business. Phaneroo Ministries also lacks proof of tax compliance. The committee also revealed that Internal Medicine of Virginia PC never interacted with the ULC as required, lacks offer letters, forwarding letters from ULC, audited accounts, proof of ability to execute similar projects, and known address among other requirements.

The committee report also noted that Arab Oil Supplies and Exploration and Master Links Uganda Ltd have no experience in handling similar projects, proof of source of funding, proof of tax compliance, and audited accounts. Kimosho said that due to influence peddling, certificates of title were issued to these beneficiaries despite the obvious non-compliance to the set parameters. He said that with these findings, it is clear that the actions of ULC in allocating and issuing certificates of title contravened the set criteria.

During the debate on the report, Robert Wandwasi, the Bungokho South MP supported the committee’s recommendation to retire the ULC commissioners in the public interest, saying that this would help safeguard public land.

Susan Amero, the Amuria Woman MP commended the committee for the report, saying that its recommendations are patriotic, and appealed for their implementation. The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among said that the committee findings are conclusive enough and that government will be required to provide a treasury memorandum on action taken within two months.

-URN

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