JINJA- Senior Jinja District leaders have been accused before the commission of inquiry into land matters of grabbing Kimaka forest and Uganda Railways land.
The commission chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire heard that in 2012, the district council approved a proposal to de-gazzete Kimaka forest reserve to pave way for the construction of a modern housing estate.
Instead, the land was parcelled out and allocated to private developers without the consent of the National Forest Authority (NFA).
Those owning titles on the government land include Mr Abubaker Menya Kirunda, the assistant town clerk of Kimaka-Mpumudde Division in Jinja Municipality, Walukuba- Masese division finance officer Alex Kiwanuka, Jinja Ministerial Zonal principal land officer Wilson Kusererwa and the zone’s senior staff surveyor Stephen Ndegeya.
The politicians include the ruling NRM party secretary for Jinja District and ex-police officer, Mr Julius Zziwa and Mr Richard Mbaziira, the Walukuba representative at the district council.
Others include businessmen Yahaya Kisaakye, Muzamiru Nabyuma, Felix Obete and Fauzia Achan.
A former senior staff surveyor at Jinja Ministerial Zonal Officer, Mr Ibrahim Magemeso, told the commission that Jinja District Land Board in September 2016 issued 47 titles on Kimaka forest land without following due processes.
He also testified that close to 60 land titles were carved out of Uganda Railways land in Jinja for Mr Mbaziira and Mr Zziwa. “….when I realised that it was railway ground, I advised the applicants; Zziwa and Mbaziira, to abandon the deal,” he said.
Mr Magemeso said he thereafter received death threats. He is currently based in Entebbe where he said he sought transfer following continued intimidation by “land grabbers”.
Mr Kisaakye was yesterday taken into police custody after the commission ordered his arrest for allegedly giving it false information on allocation of Kimaka forest land to private developers. The commission had directed him to present documentary evidence to support the transactions, which he failed.
Mr Kisaakye, who is accused of brokering land deals for high-profile people in government, testified that he made payments to Jinja District officials to secure titles in the disputed Kimaka forest reserve.
“I dealt with the chairperson of the area land committee of Mpumudde called Sam Wakadaala. I paid him Shs1m for facilitation. This was after my surveyor from Kampala handed me seven plots. Thereafter, Wakadaala told me that the sub-county chairman, William Egusa, confiscated my files. It was until I surrendered one of my plots of land to Egusa and another one to Wakadaala that my files were approved and forwarded to the district,” he testified.
Mr Kisaakye told the commission that he gave two other plots to Richard Mbaziira and policeman Julius Zziwa who had threatened to frustrate his title processing. He said the district has since granted him five plots of land on freehold.
Three district officials were also questioned in regard to their role in issuance of alleged irregular land titles that led to the destruction of the forest reserve.
The commission questioned assistant town Clerk Kirunda, district planner Fred Waisswa and land board secretary Edward Nnume. Mr Waisswa angered the commission when he said that he only learned about allocations in 2015 through the Chief Administrative Officer.