KAMPALA – Parliament has been dragged to court by a group Indian nationals who are seeking orders to put an end to the probe into acquisition of departed Asian properties describing actions by the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) as an abuse on powers of the judiciary.
The case that has been filed at the Constitutional Court and awaiting hearing is being spearheaded by a group of thirteen individuals and companies and are seeking court to intervene into the actions of the Attorney General William Byaruhanga, Departed Asians Property Custodian Board and George William Bizibu, the Executive Secretary of the Custodian Board.
Key among the issues the group raised is that the COSASE probe is merely targeting is solely based on their race, colour and ethnic origin and also questioned Parliament’s sudden interest in Asian properties despite the fact that the Legislative body has no proprietary interest in the repossessed property saying the decision contravenes sections in the constitution.
The petitioners castigated Parliament for singling them out as a specific category of Ugandans citizens of Asian descent who repossessed, manage, purchased and or inherited private property for dispossessing and cancelling their certificates of repossession and titles while leaving out persons of other nationalities who similarly reposed or purchased repossessed private property contravenes the constitution.
The team also protested the move by Parliament to reverse the repossession exercise, selling off properties and the Board continuing to hold out to be the land controlling authority the body mandated to take over the remaining unclaimed expropriated Asian properties which the Minister appointed by gazzetting which extinguished the Board substratum and the inaction of the Uganda Land Commission is inconsistent with articles 91(1), 92,155(1), 154(1), 238 and 239 of the constitution.
The group also accused Parliament of trying to usurp powers of judiciary stating that there are existing judicial court judgments on who has powers to investigate fraud and to cancel a certificate of repossession by initiating or conducting repeated hearings on the legality of certificates of repossession and allegations of fraud, saying the current probe interferes with judicial independence which is inconsistent with and or in contravention with the constitution.
They argued that Parliament ignoring existing court judgments on expropriated properties amounts to the institution’s attempts to amendment judgment which they say denies them court protection and whittles away their right to own private property and is inconsistent with the constitution.
It should be recalled that in May 2019, Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West) asked COSASE to look into the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the properties of departed Asians who were expelled by former President Idi Amin in 1972 with calls to have the inventory report of the properties probed.
Mubaraka Munyagwa, COSASE Chairperson instituted a sub-committee headed by Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye West) who also doubles as Vice Chairperson, with other members including; Paul Mwiru (Jinja East), Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central), Nathan Itungo, Donozio Kahonda Stella Kizza, Gideon Onyango and the team was tasked to probe the fraudulent takeover of departed Asians properties.