KAMPALA – The wrangling for ownership of a 366-acre land held by National Social Security Fund (NSSF) at Temangalo in Wakiso District has shone a spotlight on city businessman Amos Nzeyi and resurrected a decade-long controversy.
The commission on Wednesday August 29 heard that businessman Amos Nzeyi fraudulently acquired and occupied the disputed land on Block 296 Plot 20 in Busiro in 1993 while it was registered in the names of M/s Temangalo Tea Estate, a company owned by the family Muhammad Hassanali Moosa before they were expelled by the Iddi Amin regime in 1972.
Mr Nazim Moosa, a retired banker based in Vancouver, Canada earlier presented an original lease title before the Commission of Inquiry into land matters saying that his parents acquired the tea estate from deceased Daniel Mugwanya Kato and held it until when they were expelled in 1972.
He testified that at the time Mr Nzeyi acquired the 366-acre land, the family of Muhammad Hassanali Moosa had a running lease granted by the deceased businessman, leaser Daniel Mugwanya.
Evidence presented before the land probe chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire shows that Mr Nzeyi has since sold the land to NSSF in 2009 amid ongoing proprietorship disputes.
According to Mr Moosa, upon visiting it in 1993, part of the disputed land was bushy with some structures, a dairy farm and a watershed and that when they contacted the family of Mugwanya that leased the land to their parents, they denied knowledge of Mr Nzeyi’s claim onto the land.
“We do not know what transpired in the background but our lawyer (Mulira) revealed to us that he did not find Mr Nzeyi’s title in the land registry,” testified Mr Moosa adding that efforts to find legal redress from courts of law were frustrated despite filing two cases in 1993 and 2016.
It is alleged that Mr Nzeyi fraudulently acquired and occupied the disputed land on Block 296 Plot 20 in Busiro in 1993 while it was registered in the names of M/s Temangalo Tea Estate, a company owned by the Moosa family before they were expelled by the Iddi Amin regime.
When Mr Nzeyi was tasked to explain when and how he acquired the disputed land, how he signed a joint mutation form for subdivision of the land and ongoing court case and how he transferred it to NSSF, he explained that he took interest in the dispute in 1988 with a view of establishing a dairy farm but acquired it in phases from former managing director of Uganda Development Bank, Mr Abbas Mawanda who he knew in 1975.
Mr Nzeyi also failed to give a convincing answer when asked about the running lease at the time of him acquiring land, saying any questions can best be answered by Mr Mawanda and his former lawyers of M/s Sebalu and Lule whom he chose due to their reputation and knowledge about land in Buganda.
But Mr Mawanda on Wednesday described several sale agreements presented by Mr Nzeyi as ‘forgery’.
He told the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led Commission of inquiry into land matters that he sold the 366 acre land to Mr Nzeyi at once and not in phases as he stated.
“I was shocked this morning to see an agreement showing sale of 60 acres purportedly signed by me but the signature is not really mine. I sold Nzeyi one title of 366 acres and I have never sold to him in pieces. I doubt the sale agreement of 60 acres with Nzeyi because I did only one agreement for the whole land,” Mr Mawanda testified.
Mr Mawanda appeared before the land probe following Mr Nzeyi’s testimony in which he testified that he purchased it from Mr Mawanda, the former managing director of Uganda Development Bank.
Mr Nzeyi earlier admitted that at the time of acquisition of the disputed land, there was existence of tea on the land but said it had grown wild but denied knowledge of the 1993 court case against him.
In their defence, NSSF said that they are in possession with certificates of title after it was properly purchased.
NSSF Managing Director, Mr Richard Byarugaba testified that NSSF purchased private mails interest of land measuring 463.87 acres on two land titles in names of Amos Nzeyi and AMA Limited in 2008 and that he signed both sale agreements.
He revealed that NSSF paid Shs24 million per acre of land to Mr Nzeyi upon providing land titles that were believed to be genuine.
“… I do not believe that at this stage NSSF has any trouble to deal with. There is a case before the court which are defending but we have ownership in a title and we have possession and we are planning to do great things. I only see progress,” said Mr Byarugaba.
The new claim over ownership of the Temangalo land resurrects after a decade following an investigation by Parliament over the controversial sale of the Temangalo land to NSSF at a cost of Shs11 billion.