By The Insight Post Uganda
Major Mark Wanyama, a Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) officer, has issued a stern warning that he may resort to criminal actions if he is denied justice in his ongoing battle over land with Mukono businessman Jackson Twinamasiko.
The tension unfolded during a recent court session where both parties presented their arguments, revealing a troubling aspect of land disputes in Uganda’s legal system.
The dispute centres on a piece of land located on Mbeya Island in Mpunge sub-county within the Mukono district. Twinamasiko, the accused businessman, has been facing criminal charges related to trespassing, intentional property damage, and removal of boundaries, all related to this contested land.
Twinamasiko’s legal counsel argued that the case was fundamentally civil but had been unjustly criminalised in favour of Major Wanyama, the complainant.
Twinamasiko’s ordeal began on August 1, 2023, when he visited the Crime Investigations Department (CID) in Kibuli to follow up on a complaint he had filed against a police officer named Ben Mugisha, who was attached to the land protection desk.
To his surprise, Twinamasiko found himself under arrest during this visit. Although he was later granted a police bond, he faced another arrest on August 3, 2023, this time on charges relating to the land dispute.
The recent courtroom drama unfolded when Twinamasiko’s lawyer, Stephen Turyatunga, requested the court to consider a nearby date for the trial’s resolution. He argued that his client had been notified by the Crime Investigations Department of additional charges similar to those already pending before the court.
In response to this request, Mukono Chief Magistrate – Roselyn Nsenge warned both parties against clogging the court system with unnecessary cases and urged them to allow the legal process to proceed unhindered.
However, Major Mark Wanyama voiced his dissatisfaction, claiming that such cautions were futile when his properties were at risk. He even went further to issue a stark warning that he might resort to criminal actions to protect what he believes belongs to him.
The legal battle revolves around conflicting claims to the land. Twinamasiko’s lawyer, Turyatunga, argued that Major Wanyama had used military force to occupy land that had been in the possession of a civilian, in direct violation of an interim court order issued on November 27, 2019, and a subsequent temporary injunction from February 2020. These court orders restricted Major Wanyama from entering the disputed land.
Turyatunga maintained his position that as the ownership of the land remained in dispute, charges of trespass, malicious damage, and removal of boundaries should be either dismissed or stayed until the civil suits pending before the High Court are resolved.
Mukono Chief Magistrate Roselyn Nsenge concurred with the defence lawyer’s argument and decided to reschedule the matter. The trial, initially set for November 9, 2023, has been moved to an earlier date, October 16, when the court will determine whether to proceed with the criminal trial or drop the charges in favour of the ongoing civil suits.