Uganda Land Commission boss charged with abuse of office

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The Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala has charged the Uganda Land Commission-ULC chairperson, Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki with obstruction of search and abuse of office.

On Tuesday, Byenkya Nyakaisiki was arraigned before court presided over by the Chief Magistrate Joan Aciro who read to her the charges of obstruction of search in the presence of her body guards from the Counter Terrorism Unit of Police who were sent on remand last week on the same charges. They are: Richard Anywar, Titus Wamono and Edward Turyatunga.




Court heard that Byenkya Nyakaisiki together with her body guards obstructed Michael Tumukurate, Zakaria Teberindwa, and Superintendent of Police Noreen Akello, officials from the Inspectorate of Government from carrying out a search in the ULC offices.

According to the office of the Inspectorate of Government, the officials were going to conduct a search while acting in the exercise of powers conferred by the Inspectorate of Government Act of 2002, but they were obstructed on January 4th 2022 when they went to execute their duties.



However, Byenkya Nyakaisiki denied the charges when the matter came up on Tuesday and together with her body guards who had been returned to court for mention of their charges, the group asked to be released on bail.

Byenkya Nyakaisiki who was being represented by lawyers led by Ateenyi Tibaijuka asked to be released on bail arguing that she is a senior citizen in this country and that she sometime back got an accident and she needs to be given bail such that she can continue getting treatment. However, two of her body guards were granted bail.

The Inspectorate of Government through its prosecutor, Dr. Ernest Katwesigye objected to the release of the accused persons saying that their sureties were not substantial.




According to Katwesigye, some of the sureties presented by the accused persons had information on their National Identification cards that was not matching with that one on the submitted Local Council one introduction letters. This, he said the places of residence were not the same, making it difficult for them to trace them if any of them absconded from the trial.

After hearing the submissions from both sides, the Chief Magistrate took a break from court to enable her write her ruling and to scrutinize the documents present. On return she granted a cash bail of 4 million shillings to each of all the accused persons and their sureties each bonded 35 million shillings with exception of Turyatunga.

Turyatunga has been denied bail on grounds that his sureties had LC1 letters written in languages not known by court and were therefore considered not substantial.




He was advised to bring substantial sureties on January 17th 2022, if he is interested in bail. He was accordingly sent back on remand at Kitalya prison till then when the case will return for mention.

On October 12th 2021, the Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba suspended the management of the ULC and assumed duties of the Commission before directing the Inspectorate of Government-IG to interdict Byenkya and other commission leaders to pave way for investigations into allegations of misconduct, abuse of office and mismanagement of resources.

In line with the aforementioned directive, the Inspectorate of Government officials had last week gone to conduct a search at ULC when they were allegedly obstructed by the accused persons.




Background

On December 22nd 2021, Byenkya Nyakaisiki petitioned the High Court challenging the legality of her interdiction. As a result, on December 29th 2021, Justice Musa Ssekaana granted her a temporary injunction halting her interdiction until her case is determined.

Byenkya Nyakaisiki has since indicated that there are some political untouchables who want her out of office because they have reportedly grabbed public land and fear to be exposed.




 In 2020, the Auditor General’s report indicated that ULC did not have a land inventory and database for all government land and properties under its jurisdiction.  The report also revealed that there was a liability of 9.4 billion shillings which did not have supporting documents and overstated compensation payables amounting to 15 billion shillings among other flaws.

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