The police are investigating the circumstances under which Uganda Land Commission leased out prime land owned by the defunct Uganda Television (UTV) in Ntinda, a city suburb, to private developers instead of transferring it to Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) as required by law.
CID director Grace Akullo told this newspaper yesterday that they had received fresh complaints about the contested transactions involving Plots 4, 5, 5A and 6 on Ntinda Flats Close, which they are inquiring into.
“We have some complaint sent to us, she said by telephone, “We are just starting to look at it and have not made much progress.” This newspaper has established that the UBC managing director, Mr Paul Kihika, wrote to Ms Akullo on May 21, accusing ULC officials of colluding with private buyers to dispossess the broadcaster of property it should have inherited as the successor entity to UTV.
Mr Kihika’s letter noted that the then Information Minister in 2006 issued a statutory instrument to operationalise Section 27(1) of the UBC Act, vesting all property, rights and liabilities of the former UTV and Radio Uganda in UBC.
It is understood that toward the transformation of UTV to UBC, ownership of the disputed land temporarily reverted to ULC, the holder in trust of all public land, which first began registering the Ntinda land in UBC’s name before deciding on September 10, 2007, to lease it to a businessman, Livingstone Lubwama, who claimed he intended to put up apartments worth $600,000 (Shs1.4b).
Official documents show that it was on the basis of this application that some Land Commission officials re-adjusted borders of the original plot to create a 0.209 hectare Plot 5A; a sub-division that UBC contends was irregular.
Mr Lubwama in an August 20, 2007 application indicated that he had “identified” the land, without saying how, and got it registered in his name within 20 days.
His decision shortly afterward to sell the land to Mr Samuel Kigozi, who in turn leased it out to Leroy Lubwama from whom New Vision chief Robert Kabushenga acquired it, raised suspicion.
When the matter went to court, UBC, represented by Sebalu & Lule Advocates, last August withdrew the case against Mr Kabushenga and Mr Leroy Lubwama, and the Nakawa High Court Resident Judge, justice Faith Mwondha, ordered the public broadcaster to pay costs to the media guru.
The duo argued that they were third party buyers. Our findings show that ULC initially transferred title of the Ntinda land to UBC on September 28, 2006, but shifted goal posts as the process was being formalised.
The Commission’s incumbent chairman, Mr Joash Mayanja-Nkangi, who was yesterday reported to be attending President Museveni’s State-of-the-Nation address, in a March 6, 2009 letter described any claimant to the disputed land, other than Mr Livingstone Lubwama, as “unscrupulous”.
“This is to confirm that the lease offer for Plot 5A Ntinda Close was rightfully issued by the Uganda Land Commission to Mr Livingstone Lubwama, he wrote,
Mr Kihika has asked police to look into the possibility of illegal transfer and registration of the land to private developers and any opportunity for prosecution.