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Parish Priest named in a ploy to “grab” widow’s land. Widow, Orphans want Archbishop Bakyenga’s intervention

Lydia Nyabihemu, a widow, accuses Rubindi Parish Priest. Fr. Felix Bikwasizehi of hatching a plan to illegally grab her land. (PHOTO BY BOB AINE)

MBARARA – Bad blood is boiling between the family of late Erick Nyabihemu and Fr. Felix Bikwasizehi the parish priest of Rubindi Parish over his alleged plans by the to illegally grab Lydia Nyabihemu’s land (widow).

Members of the family of late  Erick Nyabihemu have told PML Daily that over the weekend plain clothed police detectives stormed the land in question which has some trees on it and arrested all the workers who had been hired to cut trees into timber and took them to Rubindi Police station before they were released without any charge.

Family members say that Eric Nyabihemu bought this land in 1952 and he was married to four wives but died (2003) without making a will to help the four wives know their boundaries of the land which was equivalent to over 20 acres located in Rwabashengye village, Bisya parish Rubindi Town council.

These wives included Mangyeri Nyakabazi, Lydia Nyabihemu, Kyabishiki Nyabihemu, and Olivia Nyabihemu. However after the demise of the husband, like the family, they invited the administrator General who convened over four meeting trying to ascertain whether the land he was going to divide if it had any issues that prohibit him from dividing it amongst the wives.

The land in question that was previously covered by trees and are being ferried by the accused (PHOTO BY BOB AINE)

According to the family members, no issues were raised in those various meetings pertaining to the now conflicted land.

Lydia Nyabihemu the widow told PML Daily that in 2014 Fr. Felix came telling her that he needs a passage to the land containing a forest that belongs to Rubindi catholic church which was enclosed in her land when they were dividing it amongst widows.

“It became very hard for me to understand what Fr. Felix was telling me, as time went on we were taken to court for having stress passed in the church land, the case was registered at Mbarara Municipal council court under the guise of Registered trustees of Mbarara Archdiocese against Lydia Nyabihemu but we went and won the case” Lydia said.

She adds, “I don’t know what Fr. Felix is up to with my land that belongs to the orphans and caters for me as a widow, he knows the church does not own this land, but it seems he is chasing his own motives and he is using his influence in police and high ranking officers in government to send us police to arrest and impound some of the materials which my workers use on the farm, I call upon the Archbishop of Mbarara Archdiocese Paul Bakyenga to tell this man to leave me alone with my land, if my husband used to give you trees for church it doesn’t mean that he had given you the land.”

It has been mentioned that Fr. Felix claims that the church owned an acre of land which comprised a forest which the family members are vehemently refuting that the land he is claiming is not an acre.

Lydia further said that she reported this matter to Justice Catherine Bamugemerire’s land commission of Inquiry on Vide number MBRA/225/2017 to assist in resolving these matters.

Court Ruling

According to the ruling seen by PML Daily dated 16th November 2016 signed by then Magistrate Grade I at Municipal Court Achok Abrahams Moding states that the plaintiff failed to prove its case on the balance of probability the case was dismissed with costs.

“As in regards to issue of tress pass from the evidence seen above the plaintiff has failed to prove to this court the issue of ownership, whereas the defendants clearly stated to this court how they acquired the land in issue which they are in actual possession and their testimonies was never challenged neither did they contradict during cross-examination and also at the locus in quo, hence it was not possible for the defendant to tress pass on their own land, where the case is hereby dismissed with costs.” The ruling reads in part.

Rubindi Parish Priest, Fr. Felix Bikwasizehi who is being accused of attempting to grab the land in question (PHOTO BY BOB AINE)

Fr. Felix speaks out.

He told PML Daily on Monday that the land belongs to church and that he is trying to ensure that property of the church is not taken away. He maintains that since 1955, the church has been cutting trees from that land. He admits that when he took the case to court, he lost the case but he managed to appeal to a higher court and served the defendants with court sermons which the family members of Nyabihemu are denying that they have never been served.

When asked whether he was given any document in regard to the ownership of the land, this is what he had to say “the church doesn’t have any document of ownership but  the land belongs to us when I realized that these people had started cutting trees I involved in police to deter them since the matter is still in court, they should wait until court pronounces itself on my appeal, this is not a matter of Fr. Felix, however, it’s a matter of church when you ask all the people who have lived here for a long time they know the land belongs to church.” Fr. Felix noted.

On Monday both sides we have been told that they were summoned at Mbarara police station to mend fences on how they can harmonies the situation but the details of the meeting remained scanty.  Fr. Felix, however still insists that the land belongs to church since it was gifted to them by Andrew Kerere the former owner of the land before selling it to late Eric Nyabihemu.

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