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IUIU customary land owners threaten to cancel university land title

IUIU Female Campus Administration block. The customary landowners are seeking among other demands cancellation of title in the name of Islamic University in Uganda. File photo.

MBALE– The controversy surrounding 218 acres of land donated to the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) by government in 1996 has taken a new twist with the original landowners now seeking court order to cancel certificate of title for the land registered in the name of the university.

The customary landowners are seeking among other demands cancellation of title in the name of Islamic University in Uganda, a permanent injunction restraining the university, agents and staff from entering on the land until determination of the suit.

The government through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs ended the verification and compensation exercise in May 2000 headed by the Islamic University secretary Wasswa Masokoyi.

The document accessed by PML Daily states the cause of action against the defendants is for failure to comply with the provisions of the constitution of the republic of Uganda, Article 26 [1], [2], [a], [b] and the land Act which require them promptly to compensate at current market value all customary owners and lawful occupants of the 218 acres of land in Nkoma West given to the University by government and failure to give any satisfactory explanation to that effect.

“Take notice that the customary land owners of 218 acres of Land at Nkoma West in Mbale municipality, [hereinafter referred to as “the intending plainstiffs] intend to re-institute a suit against the Islamic University in Uganda [intended first defendant], secretary general of Organisation of Islamic Conference [2nd defendant] by which we jointly and severely seek a court order as to cancellation of certificate of title for the 218 acres of land [the suit land] registered in the name of the first defendant, damages and costs of the suit,” reads the document in part dated 8 May signed by 197 claimants of the land.

The document says whereas the customary land owners appealed against unfair compensation and recognition of Islamic University by government as a true owner of the land in 2000, their appeal has never been answered and that the landowners have never been compensated in accordance with section 78 of the Land Act.

PML Daily could not to reach Attorney General William Byaruhanga for a comment as his phone was apparently not available.

But a letter accessed by PML Daily as a statement of defense filed officially in HCCS No. 0019 of 2006 at Mbale clearly states the money claimed by the landowners can’t be given to them.

“…. The money claimed by the customary land owners of 218 acres for prime land is nor recoverable from it,” reads the letter signed by then Attorney General Mr Kiddu Makubuya in part.

The land owners led by the chairman of the effected families, Mr. Musa Kalokola claim the compensation exercise was paying the people as low as Shs34, 090 for half an acre far below the market price and too little to resettle the affected families.

Kalokola says government has been very insensitive on the issue even when it is clear that the aggrieved families have been living like squatters on their own land and have been under constant threat of eviction by the university for more than twenty years.

However, the University Secretary then now a lecturer at the University Waswa Masokoyi says they have compensated people in accordance with the standing market price.

“We have compensated people twice. The people who are getting Shs. 34,090 are the ones we compensated first and were only demanding for the balance which we paid but the other class which did not get, we paid them between Shs. 2.000.000 and 5.000.000 depending on how much land one had,” Masokoyi said.

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