Jinja, (UG): The High Court in Jinja has convicted Pastor Daniel Muwanga of Rock Base Church in Jinja City Southern Division on two counts of forgery and uttering false documents.
Muwanga was found guilty by Lady Justice Winifred Nabisinde who fined him Shillings 2 million.
The pastor according to court documents was charged in 2020 with forging documents related to 3.5 acres of land that he allegedly grabbed from his family friend, Reverend Canon Charles Irongo, the deacon of Kyando Parish in Mayuge District.
The disputed land is situated in Kyamagwa Cell in Jinja City Northern Division. It was reported that Irongo had sought financial assistance from Muwanga in 2018, providing the land title of his farmland as security.
He repaid the undisclosed sum of money in December 2018. However, Muwanga refused to return the land title to Irongo, leading to a series of unsuccessful family meetings.
In 2019, local leaders alerted Irongo that land dealers were inspecting the land with the intention of resurveying it for potential sale.
Officials from the Jinja District Land Board then informed Irongo that Muwanga had transferred the land title to his name and was seeking a buyer for Shillings 226 million.
Irongo filed criminal complaints of forgery, uttering false documents, and trespass at the Jinja Central Police Station in 2020.
The matter was investigated and taken up by the state attorney, and although Muwanga was initially acquitted due to insufficient evidence, Irongo challenged the court ruling.
Muwanga’s conviction followed an appeal filed by the state attorney in the Jinja High Court after his acquittal by the Grade One Magistrate in 2021.
In her judgment, Jinja Resident Judge, Winifred Nabisinde noted that Muwanga had betrayed the value of friendship by forging Irongo’s signature to rob him of his property.
Nabisinde noted that Muwanga had used Irongo’s naivety to forge his signature and transfer the certificate of the land title into his name without detection.
She also criticized Irongo for being gullible, having readily offered his land title certificate to the convict, granting him the opportunity to manipulate him.
During sentencing, Muwanga’s defense lawyer, Jacob Osillo, requested a lenient sentence due to his client’s status as a first-time offender and hypertension, which requires medical attention not available in prison.
As a result, Nabisinde imposed a fine of Shillings one million per count, totaling two million Shillings, as an alternative to a custodial sentence.
If Muwanga is unable to pay the fine, he will serve two years in Kirinya Prison.
Irongo informed journalists that he had also filed a civil suit against Muwanga for his continued occupation of the disputed land. The civil suit is currently pending a hearing in the Jinja High Court.
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