WAKISO. Land registrars in Wakiso District suspected to have fraudulently sold off wetlands and forest reserves and issued land titles to the buyers have been summoned to appear before the commission of inquiry.
They are; Mr Emmanuel Bamuyite, Ms Arato Lowera and Vero Namutebi. They are suspected to have issued the impugned title deeds between 2014 and 2016.
This information came to light on Wednesday when the Commission of Inquiry into land acquisition and management raided Wakiso District land offices where it unearthed a lot of forgery in land titling and acquisition in the district.
The Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, also established that 600 acres of land at Block 226 in Buwanuka village, Kakiri Town Council was parcelled out into two.
This specific title deed is suspected to have been issued by registrar Namutebi on April 3, 2014, according to preliminary findings by the commission.
“This land was converted from customary to freehold,” one of the commissioners said as she examined the documents. Other areas of contention include; a wetland at Block 82 which had 180 hectares and was divided into 16 plots and the land titles have already been issued.
Another land is a public cemetery in Kira Municipality at Block 242 which originally had 40 hectares, but a large chunk of it has been sold off. What remains of it now is less than five acres. Plots divided from this cemetery include 83, 85, 92, 96, 99, 100, 103, 104, 111 and 116, according to confidential documents obtained by the Commission.
“Provide the certified copies, the registration of files for the said plots,” the commission ordered the district land officials.
Another area of interest by the commission is on Block 170 in Kira Town Council where plots 674 and 684 were irregularly gazetted without following the due process. Part of this land is a wetland.
At Block 226-228, where land had previously been gazetted as a forest reserve in Nonve Village, all the 738 hectares were sold away and sub-divided into plots.
The commission ordered for production of documents relating to this land from the district lands registry and summoned the responsible registrars to appear before it.
Other cases of controversial land sales on block 242 include 10 plots which were converted from customary to freehold ownership. The plots are separately numbered between 83-116.
On Block 70 another 11 plots numbered between 674 to 684 had not matching records in the registry by the time of the Commission’s inspection.
Individual registrars who were named in the suspected scam were not readily available, but their boss Mr Johnson Mukaga, who heads the ministry of Lands Zonal office in Wakiso, said they would take personal responsibility for their omissions or commissions.
Wakiso handles between 200 and 300 land files daily, according to the senior registrar of titles at the district, Mr Francis Banomba.
Wakiso District Chief Administrative Officer Luke Lokuda says staff in the lands office are poorly remunerated and this could be one of the reasons they were tempted to engage in inappropriate behaviour.
According to Lokuda, the chairperson of the district land committee earns a paltry Shs170,000 every three months while other members receive only Shs140,000.