KAMPALA – Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has been dealt a blow after the court ruled that its subcommittee did its work illegally as it tried to act as the court in investigating properties under the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB).
Mohammed Allibhai, the applicant had dragged the Attorney General to court seeking court to review the acts of the COSASE subcommittee in investigating properties already handled by the court and other processes, confirming rightful ownership.
Remember Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka had already distanced himself from the committee’s report recommending the cancellation of repossession certificates held by owners of the properties, stating that it could result in lawsuits.
In a ruling by Justice Boniface Wamala dated June 4, 2022, Court agreed with Allibhai that COSASE’ work was illegal, and awarded him costs of the application against the Attorney General (government). That means COSASE has cost taxpayers money due to recklessness.
The judge stated that COSASE Sub-Committee acted ultra vires, and thus illegally when it investigated properties that were subject to concluded court decisions or ongoing court processes.
The judge agreed that COSASE Sub-Committee acted ultra vires, and thus illegally when it made recommendations that purport to overturn court decisions.
“The COSASE Sub-Committee exceeded its mandate and acted without jurisdiction, and thus illegally, when it purported to investigate properties already dealt with under the Expropriated Properties Act and in respect of which certificates of repossession had long been issued.”
Adding that: “The COSASE Sub-Committee acted ultra vires and without jurisdiction, thus illegally, when it made recommendations for cancellation of repossession certificates in respect of properties that had already been dealt with in accordance with the Expropriated Properties Act.”
He also agreed that COSASE Sub-Committee acted with bias and in abuse of the principles of natural justice, thus with procedural impropriety and unfairness, when it issued a warrant of arrest against the Applicant.
He also ruled an order quashing and expunging from the Hansards of Parliament those parts of the COSASE Sub-Committee report that relate to the Applicant and are affected by the illegalities, procedural impropriety and unfairness contained in the declarations.
Additionally, he quashed and expunged from all official records the warrant of arrest issued against the Applicant.
Justice Wamala also has ordered the prohibition and barred the Respondent [Attorney General COSASE], their servants, agents or any other body or persons from enforcing the recommendations of the COSASE Sub-Committee in as far as they relate to the Applicant or the affected properties.
The application was brought by Notice of Motion under Articles 28, 42, 44 (c) and 50 of the Constitution; Sections 36 and 38 of the Judicature Act Cap 13; and Rules 3, 6, 7 and 8 of the Judicature (Judicial Reviews) Rules, S.I. No. 11 of 2009 as amended.
COSASE sub-committee about a year tabled a report to parliament with recommendations over the repossessed departed Asians’ properties. However, their implantation was immediately rejected by the Attorney General and now the court has followed the same, raising questions about the credibility of COSASE’s work.
Chaired by the then Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi, the COSASE sub-committee investigated the alleged in DAPCB for over a year in the wake of the findings of the Auditor General’s report of 2016, had recommended the cancellation of the repossession of properties whose original proprietors did not return to the country physically.
During the probe, the sub-committee had observed that most of the expropriated properties were being managed by agents most of them now real estate moguls in Uganda, on behalf of the Asians who never returned by 1993, about two decades after their 1972 expulsion by former president, Iddi Amin.
“All repossessions whose former owners didn’t return physically to manage the properties as required by law should be cancelled or revoked for being null and void. The minister should invoke his/her powers under section 9(1) of the Expropriated Properties Act (EPA) to make an order to either retain such properties as government or the same be disposed of in a manner prescribed by regulation 11 of the Expropriated Properties (Repossession and Disposal) Regulations,” reads part of the recommendations in the COSASE report.