YOUNG MAN SHATTERS PRESIDENT MUSEVENI’S DREAM, COMPUTER ASSEMBLING PLANT FAILS TO BE ALLOCATED LAND IN FREE ZONE, Shs 7.5 BILLIONS LOST IN BOGUS LAND DEAL, JUSTICE BAMUGEMEREIRE NVESTIGATES
President Yoweri Museveni’s dream of creating free zones for exports has hit a snag after a young man, Richard Jabo 41 years spent 7.5 billion shillings on a bogus land deal. “I ignored the board, he simply told the Land Probe Commission headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire.
President Yoweri Museveni started the Uganda Free Zone Authority in 2014 with aim of creating a conducive atmosphere for foreign direct investment. Richard Jabo who was around 35 years was appointed Executive Director.
On 18th May 2015, the Minister of Finance, Hon Matia Kasaija tasked the newly-formed Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) Board to create a friendly environment for investors in a bid to increase the country’s exports and create jobs for the unemployed youth.
Kasaija, however, cautioned the board on fake investors who fleece government of money.
Five years after swearing in, the Executive Director ignored the board and other whistleblowers, paid over 7.5 billion shillings to street wise Ugandans who have fleeced government’s money.
Asked why he ignored the whistleblowers, Richard Jabo said “if we had been informed that the land title was problematic, I do not think the Solicitor General of Uganda would have cleared us. We had gone through a protracted procurement process. Having obtained those clearances, we thought there was no other point for the delay”.
State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite petitioned the Land Commission of Inquiry to investigate Uganda Free Zone Authority (UFZA) and the Procurement Unit of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development for buying the ‘ghost’ property.
She said the investigations should start from Uganda Free Zone Authority to ascertain the property they bought and from whom to recover taxpayers money they wasted on the non-existent property.
Anite says the land, which cost taxpayers Shillings 7.5 billion, has encumbrances, which makes transfer of ownership to Uganda Free Zones Authority legally untenable, disclosing that several attempts to transfer it to the authority for government to use in setting up a Free Zone Industrial Park have failed.
President Museveni had attracted an investor who wanted to assemble computers for export. The land comprised in Busiiro County, Wakiso District estimated 100 acres had been identified because government bought it. Today, government of Uganda has no land; the investor has no land to establish a computer plant.
When asked by the commission why he defied the caution and opinion of Keith Muhakanizi, the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Hon. Evelyne Anite the Minister of Investment, the legal advice of the Director legal and Chairperson Board of Directors of Uganda Freezone Authority,.
Richard Jabo conceded that he went against the majority caution and advice because he wanted to spend money before end of financial year.
Mr. Augustine Bukenya Muwuluzi, 75 years, a resident of Mityana district in Central Uganda and retired accountant, appeared earlier before the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters Chaired by Hon. Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire to lodge a complaint on the subject land comprised on block 535-40, plot 161-162, folio 21 in Buwaya, Busiiro County, Wakiso District.
Bukenya alleged that the contested land was originally 5.5 square miles and belonged to Gabunga Nsubuga, from whom George Nsubuga acquired 700 acres, of which, Samuel Kironde, Bukenya’s father purchased 140 acres.
By the time of Bukenya’s father’s death in 2004, the land was still on blue pages and had coffee plantations with a few bibanja owners. After Samuel Kironde’s death, his children; Matovu, Lutwama, Muwonge, Namatovu, Makumbi, John, Elvania, Nalubega, Nalwoga, Nansamba and Bukenya, the complainant tried to process land titles, only to realize that Engineer Lutaya and Paul Bukenya had processed a land title on the same land.
when he learnt that Engineer Lutaya and Paul Bukenya were planning to sell the land to Uganda Free Zones Authority, Bukenya, through his lawyer, wrote a letter to the said cautioning them about the purchase of the land, but Free Zone Authority and Ministry of Finance ignored his caution, went ahead to pay 7.5 billion to Engineer Lutaya and Paul Bukenya.
when asked how much he thought was the land’s worth, Bukenya asserted that
the Government has its valuers who can estimate the land’s worth.
The Commission will continue its investigations in regard to the matter and summon the concerned persons to testify.
Whistle-blowers, who are also claimants in the 7.5 billion shillings land acquisition by Uganda Free Zone Authority in Wakiso district, are demanding security protection from government through the Land Commission of Inquiry.
They say their lives, homes and properties are under threats from some of the people being investigated by the Land Commission of Inquiry for fraudulently registering the land, selling it to Uganda Free Zone Authority and causing taxpayers a loss of 7.5 Billion shillings in the procurement.
Mr. Bernard Kityo, while appearing before the Commission testified that the Bibanja holders were not paid as Free zones Authority had indicated in a press release that appeared in the New vision last week neither did they willingly sell their land, but that the mayor connived with other District officials to coerce them to sell their bibanjas to Dick Lutaya and Paul Bukenya and when coercion yielded no results, force was used with surveyors forcefully surveying the land under police supervision.
The Commission is continuing with their investigation in regard to the matter.