MBALE – The High Court in Mbale has finally June 22 visited the disputed land in Nabigyo cell in Mbale municipality’s Wanale division where two MPs are clashing over ownership.
Ms Lillian Monda, the deputy registrar of the high court in Mbale led by members of the court, Uganda police force, lawyers and a group of locals visited the land in Nabigyo cell in Wanale division.
Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi [MP Budadiri West and Mr Patrick Okabe [Serere County], two leading members of Parliament have for the last eight years been differing sharply over land ownership and claims of invasion by each party in Mbale municipality.
The two have been clashing over land located on Plot 5 Bumbobi road, Nabigyo lane in Wanale division, Mbale Municipality in Mbale district.
Following the high court directive of July 2007, where the Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, directed that when hearing land cases, the courts should visit the land in dispute and ensure that all the warring parties and witnesses are involved, allow the different parties to give evidence at the site and allow cross-examination and record any observations, views, opinions or conclusions of the court, including drawing a sketch plan Ms Monda led the court to the disputed land.
When Mr Monda reached the land in question and found that there was a garden of maize, each of the parties claimed to have given permission to people to do farming on the disputed land.
“I am the one who gave permission to these people to dig because the land belongs to me, I have the title, I have poured materials for building there in the corner, you can even ask the farmers,” said Mr Okabe.
“This land belongs to me, I have all the papers, I have my people who keep this land led by Stephen Wodola who occasionally give out this land for farming to individuals, ask that woman there, Mr Okabe has sold his land in between us and he want to take this one,” Mr Nandala shot back as Mr Wodola came out to testify.
Mr Nandala through his lawyers; Ms Nabende &Co advocates alleges that the about two hectare spiece of land in Nabigyo cell in Wanale division, Mbale municipality, was fraudulently transferred into Mr Okabe’s names.
“And we are seeking orders cancelling the transfer and compensation for damages caused to our client,” said Mr Nabende.
This is the second third time the duo are clashing on the same land after the April, 2020 and another clash in October 2015 and all efforts by Mr Nandala Mafabi to end the land conflict have been futile and the repeated differing views have continued without a solution.
Mr Okabe who doubles as a bishop of the Pentecostal impact ministries in Mbale also claims the land belongs to him and that he has a land title.
But Mr Nandala who also has documents that indicate that the land belongs to him says Mr Okabe acquired the land dubiously during the time there was a lot of mess in the Mbale district Land Board.
Mr Nandala says Mr Okabe has for long attempted to ‘criminally’ grab his land even before becoming an MP while Mr Okabe insists that Mr Nandala is the one who wants to grab his land.
Mr Rogers Taitika, Elgon police spokesperson said a case has already been registered at Mbale central police Station under 36/16/05/2020, T/Viol and C/T/P and that investigations have already commenced.
The former LCI of Nabigyo cell Ms Norah Owaraga said as the area leader she knew the land in question was a bush neighbouring rugby grounds and Elimu Church but that occasionally she would see people there.
Hajji Hakim Waniaye, the Area land Committee chairman [Wanale division] Masaba cell said that land in question belongs to Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi and that he remembers very well how it was bought and he signed the documents.
“But a few years later another group forged my signature and signed documents selling it to Mr Okabe, I have opened a case of forgery with police and I am waiting to be brought to court to have the people charged for forgery of my signature.”
Mr Nandala is asking the court to cancel Mr Okabe’s name from the certificate of title of the disputed land and a permanent injunction restraining all the defendants from interfering with his enjoyment of the property.
But Mr Okabe’s lawyers M/s Awori & Co advocates insist that their client got the land in the right channels and that there is no way he will give up the land in question.
But who is the owner of this land at Plot 5, Bumboi road?
Mr Nandala said that Mr Okabe acquired the land through the then district land board secretary Ms Anna Nakayenze who had allegedly forged minutes to allocate already allocated plots in Mbale municipality.
The August 22, 2002 lease offer seen by PML Daily allows Bishop Patrick Okabe to acquire and develop Plot 5 Bumboi Close in Mbale municipality under a forged signature of the area land committee chairman.
But the certificate of title for the same plot was given out on May 12, 2000, to Mr Nandala Mafabi using a minute of the January 8, 1998 land board meeting.
It is ironical that the documents show that the land was titled in 2000 before it was leased out to the bishop on January 9, 2002.
Although the documents clearly indicate that the land was given out to Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi in 1998 by the same board, the minutes of the award seem to be missing in the file.
Although it is clear that most of the disputes involving land without titles are resolved by area local administrative authorities, chiefs, senior citizens and village elders who tend to have more knowledge of boundary demarcations in their areas of influence, and secondly because of their leadership roles, age and experience, these are not involved in this in Mbale.
“Many people tend to respect them and accordingly do trust them in mediating and negotiating out such disputes,” Mr Nandala added.
He revealed that whereas it is clear that of the non-traditional court mechanisms, LC1 and LC3 chairpersons are more pivotal in solving such disputes than any other forum, there are also legal aid clinics, entities that provide free legal services to those without land titles.
“Their lawyers do mediate out disputes between adversaries before such disputes go to court level for instance with the justice law centers, Uganda land Alliance, and LEMU (Land Equity Movement of Uganda), among others,” said Mr Nandala adding that “Mr Okabe must respect the local leaders, local elders and the LCs opinions on the land in question.”
Mr Martin Musamali, the former chairman of the DLB told PML daily last month that many plots have fraudulently been given out even when it is clear that they had already been given out to other people for development.
He sightsd Plot 22 Cathedral Avenue under Volume 2797 Folio 8 leased to a Ugandan of Somali origin Mr Ahmed Abrahim in 1990 which was also leased to Mr Robert Mulindwa, Mr Geoffrey Kakuuma and Mr Mahad Nagimesi for 20 years on 25 March 2015 using forged minutes.
It is clear that although payment of lease offers of Shs400, 000 is done by the intending land developer at the DLB but the minutes for the lease offers, stamps, signatures and dates of the lease offers are all reportedly forged.
It is clear that January 8, 1998, DLB minutes signed by the land board secretary, Ms Anna Nakayenze, on May 17, 2006, are not paged and one page has a different font from other minutes of the same meeting.
Adding that “the January 17, 2006 minutes bear different stamps, signatures and are of a different font compared to the original minutes.”
M/S Nabende & Co advocates, the lawyers representing Mr Nandala Mafabi says that the January 17, 2006 minutes seen bear different stamps, signatures and are of a different font compared to the original minutes.
“These people know very well that in 1998 Mbale District, like other districts in Uganda was using a typewriter, but they are not ashamed to use a computer for typing, setting font and forging minutes to give out land leases,” said Mr Nabende.
Reports in Mbale district also indicate that there are many fraudulent land transactions that have been conducted in absence of Mbale District land board Committee and area land committees that need to be investigated.
Mrs Monda has given the two parties up to June 25, to narrow down the agreed facts of the case and to formulate the issues in dispute, so the case can start.