By The Insight Post Uganda
A contentious land dispute in Nasuuti trading centre, Mukono district, has vividly shed light on the power dynamics at play as some individuals with connections to influential figures find themselves embroiled in legal conflicts.
At the heart of this conflict is Nelson Okello, who is identified as the son-in-law of a high-ranking military official, Lieutenant General Proscovia Nalweyiso.
Okello faces allegations of encroaching on property belonging to local entrepreneur John Balidda. His actions are believed to have the backing of the Nalweyiso family.
According to Balidda, a resident of Mukono Central Division, he purchased a plot of land measuring 43ft by 100ft from the late Suzan Namutebi for UGX60 million in August 2020, with the sale witnessed by Namutebi’s daughter, Harriet Nkugwa. The buying agreement for this transaction was prepared by MS Patrick Ssemakula and company advocates.
Several months later, Okello acquired an adjacent plot from Akumada Bogeere though a little smaller in size. As his planned development could not fit on his newly acquired land, Okello encroached upon Balidda’s property by constructing a perimeter wall.
When Balidda approached Okello to address the encroachment issue, Okello reportedly offered to pay him UGX5 million for the damages, an offer Balidda refused. The portion of land encroached upon is estimated to be worth nearly UGX20 million.
Balidda sought assistance from the municipal council to rectify the situation. Deputy Town Clerk Luboyera Majerani responded by dispatching an enforcement team to demolish the perimeter wall erected by Okello.
However, before the enforcement team could complete the demolition, Majerani was summoned by Resident District Commissioner Fatumah Ndisaba. She demanded an explanation for the demolition without a court order.
In Uganda, the process for house plan approval requires adherence to the Land Act and the submission of specific documents, including a copy of the land title, a boundary opening report from a surveyor, electrical and geotechnical drawings, council payment receipts, and neighbour consent or a local council letter.
Despite Okello’s alleged failure to produce these required documents at any municipal council office, the RDC instructed Majerani to fund the reconstruction of the perimeter fence with his own resources to avoid potential repercussions.
Under the protection of armed personnel, Okello successfully restored the perimeter fence, deeply distressing Balidda and raising questions about the effectiveness of the country’s leadership systems.
Balidda took his case to State Minister for Lands, Sam Mayanja, and also attempted to petition the court. However, he claimed that his efforts were hindered by influential forces.
The businessman further alleges that Lt. Gen. Nalweyiso provided money to her Okello to purchase the land for approximately UGX80 million. However, Okello presented a buying agreement for UGX150 million, justifying the purchase by encroaching on Balidda’s land.
Balidda fervently stressed his quest for justice in this dispute. To validate his assertions, the businessman highlighted, that the land he had acquired notably featured a grave and an electric pole, which were enclosed by a fence during the investigation.
When contacted, Akumada Bogeere, who sold the land to Okello, confirmed that the plot he sold did not include an electric pole or any grave, as they belonged to a neighbouring plot.
Bogere stated that he preferred not to get involved in the dispute but would be willing to show where his land boundary used to pass. He also mentioned that alterations in the purchase agreements had been made, but he still had the original copy.
We also contacted ‘bwana’ Okello but he declined to respond to our inquiries regarding the allegations. RDC Ndisaba maintained that the matter had been handled procedurally wrong by the town clerk and should be placed in the correct legal order. Nalweyiso was unavailable for comment as she could not be reached.
However, this contentious land dispute highlights the complexities and challenges surrounding property rights, legal proceedings, and the potential influence of individuals with political connections in Uganda’s land ownership and disputes.
Rampant Land Disputes
Land disputes in Mukono districts have become rampant leaving several owners at a loss due to misuse of office and power. Several of these cases involve senior military officers and top government authorities who use their connections to oppress their victims.
The recent case is of Robert Mbaziira, the Senior Land Management Officer of Mukono District, who was arrested for allegedly issuing double land titles, a practice that has led to constant disputes and uncertainty within the district.
Mbaziira was arrested on the orders of the State Minister for Lands- Sam Mayanja who had visited the district to settle the escalating land disputes in the district. According to the minister, Mbaziira had been embroiled in numerous land disputes, particularly those involving double titling emanating from the land management system.
The consequences of these discrepancies were dire, leading to physical altercations, injuries, and even loss of life among the aggrieved land claimants.
Another dispute is between a high-ranking officer of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), Major Mark Wanyama, and businessman Jackson Twinamasiko. The contention revolves around a seven-acre plot situated on Mbeya Island in Mpunge sub-county.
Although Twinamasiko purchased land adjacent to Wanyama’s, the Major expressed discomfort with having a neighbour from a different tribe.
Subsequently, driven by his tribal sentiments, Wanyama pressured the landowner to modify the purchase agreement to suggest that he had acquired the land before Twinamasiko. This was meant to reimburse Twinamasiko so that he could leave.
However, Twinamasiko refused this arrangement and opted to seek legal resolution by taking the issue to court.