Kampala. The State Minister for Cooperatives, Mr Frederick Ngobi Gume, has been accused of grabbing of government property in Jinja Town.
A former secretary of Jinja District Land Board, Mr Moses Magemeso, made the allegations while appearing before the commission of inquiry into land matters on Friday. He said during his tenure as chairperson district council in March 2012, Mr Gume ordered him [Magemeso] to include on the agenda of the district land board meeting, an application for leasehold by a foreign-owned company, Favourate Enterprises.
Mr Magemeso said Mr Gume called him to his office and introduced Mr David Pande, a private surveyor whom he asked to hand him the application file by Favourate Enterprises.
“It was not appropriate and he (Gume) was not part of the district land board. I did not know his motive but since I was partly reporting to him and I was also clerk to Council, I had no option. When I looked at the application, it had a recommendation from the area land committee that it was available and free…” Mr Magemeso, now the Jinja District assistant Chief Administrative Officer, said.
He was testifying before the commission over his involvement in the fraudulent acquisition and leasing out government land in Jinja District.
The land under controversy measures more than 9.92 hectares (about 25 acres) between Madhivani and Wairaka Farm Institute in Butemba, Wairaka in Jinja District. It had been allocated to National Fisheries Research Institute (NAFIRI) in 2011 by the Uganda Land Commission as compensation for its land used for construction of the Civil Service College.
It is alleged that the land had been earmarked for construction of aquaculture research and training centre.
Evidence before the land probe shows that the Jinja District officials under the cover of investment, illegally allocated the same land to the foreigners.
Mr Magemeso also testified before the meeting that the district land board chairperson, Mr Alex Waibale, asked him to present the application file and he wrote a letter inviting Favourate Enterprises to appear before the board.
“At some point between March and April 2012, I received a call from Mr Waibale telling me that Mr Pande had rung him that the board moves to the ground,” said Mr Magemeso, adding that he knew Mr Pande as a surveyor and former land board member who was removed on orders of the Inspector General of Government in 2010 over involvement in dubious land transactions.
The seven-member commission sitting at the National Records and Archive Centre in Kampala is investigating into the law, processes and procedures in land acquisition, land administration, and management in the country.