KAMPALA.

The High Court in Masindi has ordered the commissioner of Surveys and Mappings in Entebbe to avail the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, Solomon Iguru Gafabusa, with the cadastral sheet for Buhanguzi County as evidence in the ongoing case over Bugoma Forest Reserve in Hoima District.

Justice Rugadya Atwoki also directed the commissioner to provide documents in regard to instruction to survey Bugoma Forest Reserve by December 12 this year.

The documents are required by court as evidence before hearing of an application in which National Forestry Authority (NFA) is seeking an order stopping the kingdom activities in the disputed land.
In August, NFA sued the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom over alleged encroachment and degrading of Bugoma Forest Reserve.

The forest authority is also accusing the king of fraudulent concealment when he allegedly stealthily applied for a freehold title on part of the forest which was granted by Uganda Land Commission.

The Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara is jointly sued with sugar firm, Hoima Sugar Limited and the Uganda Land Commission.

NFA is seeking a court declarations that their activities on the forest land is illegal and an act of trespass.

The land under dispute is comprised of Plot 216, Buhanguzi Block 2 Hoima District held by the Hoima Sugar Limited, which forms part of Bugoma forest.

On September 6, court dismissed an application for temporary stay of activities of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and Hoima Sugar Limited and ordered for the status quo to be maintained.

The application for interim stay resulted from a case in which NFA sued Omukama Gafabusa jointly with the Uganda Land Commission, accusing the king of fraudulent concealment and stealthily applying for a freehold title on part of the forest.

Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom prime minister Norman Lukumu said government had not communicated to them about the cancellation of the title on the disputed land issued to Omukama Gafabusa.

Mr Lukumu told journalists that the kingdom only heard about the purported cancellation in the media but no official communication has been served to them.

“We have not been issued any letter and even the title given to us is in our possession. What I have heard about is the cancellation of the lease,” he said.

Mr Lukumu said: “In Kyangwali, you will see how much trees have been destroyed by NFA and police. It is the State through the police that is carrying out lumbering on site. Even when the court ordered for a status quo to be maintained, government refused to implement it.”

In September, government announced the cancellation of the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom’s land title in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.

The kingdom leased the disputed forest reserve to Hoima Sugar Limited, but NFA insisted it has the mandate over the area.
Mr Lukumu also said they have demarcated their land to separate it from the forest reserve under NFA.

Bunyoro Kingdom claims that the disputed land, which covers Muhangaizima village in Kyangwali sub-county, is part of the reinstated kingdom property.

On the other hand NFA insists that the area lies within a central forest reserve. The contested land measures about 8,000 hectares which is about 20 per cent of entire of Bugoma forest reserve cover.