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Minister orders cancellation of six freehold land titles in Luwero over fraud

The land in question was sold to several people among them former Vice President Edward Ssekandi who acquired one and half square miles of the contested land.

Mr. Sam Mayanja, the State Minister for Lands (Photo/Courtesy)

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The State Minister for Lands, Sam Mayanja has ordered the cancellation of six freehold land titles that were fraudulently created on seven square miles belonging to the family of the late Cranmer Kaaya.

In 1969, the late Kaaya, a prominent businessman acquired a 49-year lease on seven square miles of land on block 769 plot 3 and was supposed to expire in 2013. The lease was extended by Uganda Land Commission for 99 years.

However, the area Land Committee and Luwero District Land Board created six freehold land titles on the same land yet the lease had not expired.

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The land was sold to several people among them former Vice President Edward Ssekandi who acquired one and half square miles of the contested land. Others were Dr. Alice Nakiwoga, John Bizimungu, Dan Mutagubya, Florence Asiimwe, and Beatrice Nyayisanga.

Last year, the family of the late Kaaya petitioned Lands Minister Sam Mayanja demanding investigations into how the titles were created on existing lease and order for cancellation.

On 1 December 2021, Minister Mayanja responded by writing to the Inspector General of Government-IGG to investigate Ivan Serwambala ,the Luwero District Senior Surveyor, and how the land could have been titled.

In a letter dated 3 January 2022, Mayanja instructed the Commissioner of Land Registration to cancel all the land titles created on the lease because they were illegally issued and in total disregard of procedures as well as law. The affected land titles include block 769 plots 09, 10, 11 among others.

Mayanja also cleared Serwambala saying he has found out that he didn’t participate in the alleged fraud. He also directed that all land brokers be prohibited from operating and transacting in the land within or around all Ministerial Zonal offices-MZOs in the country.

He clarified that only registered land proprietors, bankers, surveyors, architects, and advocates with valid practicing certificates are allowed to transact business at the MZOs.

Wasswa Kaaya, a son of late Cranmer Kaaya said that they were happy that they have finally repossessed their land and they had no issue against Serwambala because he was not involved in the fraud.

Wasswa explained that they have talked to some of the holders of the titles including former VP Sekandi and they agreed to give up the land because they bought it without knowing it was fraudulently acquired.

Wasswa added there is a network of brokers stationed at Ministerial Zonal Offices located at Bukalasa village who work with government officials to check which lease is about to expire and grab the land without the knowledge of the occupants.

Wasswa says that it’s the same brokers that processed land titles on their land before the lease expired and in total disregard of procedures which included consulting the occupant.

Serwambala declined to comment on the minister’s statement.

The affected holders of the land titles couldn’t be reached for comment.

Several residents in Luwero and Nakaseke district are facing looming eviction in a new phase of land grabbing cases. In the majority of land conflicts, people emerge with titles without knowledge of the land occupants.

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