Suspected land grabbers jailed for threatening Land Commission witnesses

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Several witnesses who have appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters have reportedly been threatened by some individuals who are linked to state security agencies.

This was revealed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the chairperson of the commission, investigating a range of issues in Uganda’s land sector.

So far, six people have been arrested for allegedly intimidating a one Milton Bukanzi who testified before the commission on May 31.

The suspects who were charged with threatening violence; include George William Ssebugwanyi, Derrick   Sseruyange, Joseph Magala ,  Brian Lunninze  Mutebi, Mohamad Kizito Muhamad and Stephen Lutaaya Stephen. They were remanded to Kigo prison.

The commission was tasked to inquire into the effectiveness of the land law, the process of land acquisition, land administration, management and land registration.

However, as the commission proceeds with its work, questions linger on whether it will be able to face untouchables involved in dubious land deals in the regions of Bunyoro, Buganda and Acholi. Indeed, its work could be hindered by reports of intimidation against witnesses in its public hearings.

The Commission faced almost a similar incident during its public hearing in Luweero when one landlord identified as Swaibu Yiga Mukasa allegedly used police and other state security agencies to intimidate witnesses. Former State Minister for Lands, Ms Aida Nantaba had cautioned earlier, that the commission is likely to face difficulties in dealing with government officials and senior security personnel involved in land grabbing.

But Justice Bamugemereire has warned whoever intends to use state security agencies to intimidate her, commission members and witnesses not to dare.

 One of the commissioners, Mr Robert Ssebunya told journalists that they are not aware of untouchables in government departments adding that they would come out with a balanced report.

Other members of the commission are; Mr George Bagonza, Ms Mary Odupa Ochan, Dr Rose Nakayi, Mr Fredrick Ruhindi and Mr Joyce Habasa.

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