Katanga residents call for protection against threats, illegal eviction by Makerere University

By Male Deogratius Following the threats by the Makerere University authorities to evict the residents on the disputed land in Katanga near Wandegeya, the area leaders and residents have urged the various concerned authorities to shield them against what they termed as illegal eviction. Led by the chairman of Busia Zone, Mr Abdu Ssekajja, the residents have requested the authorities to restrain Makerere University authorities from threatening and misleading the public about their stay on Katanga land.

Katanga residents call for protection against threats, illegal eviction by Makerere University

“We have read reports and statements referring to us as land grabbers but I want to put the record straight that we are Binanja holders and the court ruled that we are legally in occupation. I urge the university authorities to follow the right procedure instead of resorting to threats and illegal means.” said Mr Ssekajja

The fresh appeals come amid a pending appeal in which Makerere University is seeking to overturn a 2015 judgment in which the court ruled that the Katanga Valley land was occupied by four family members and their licensees who are now bonafide occupants whose rights are well protected under the laws governing ownership of land.

 The local leaders of Busia and Kimwanyi local Council areas in Wandegeya Parish, Kawempe Division said that they are legally occupying their binanja after the High Court declared them bonafide occupants on land.

 In 2015, the High Court ruled that the Katanga Valley land was occupied by four family members and their licensees who are now bonafide occupants whose rights are well protected under the laws governing ownership of land.

According to Mr Ssekajja, the then High Court Judge Alphonse Owiny-Dollo visited the land and interacted with all parties before making his decision which remains in force until a higher court rules otherwise.

 He told journalists at their Local Council Offices in Katanga that all Makerere University has to do is to follow the legal procedure in order to resolve the dispute.

The remarks follows an outcry in the media where Makerere University authorities appealed to the government to come to their rescue and save their 10 acre land in Katanga

 The four family members are Jonathan Yosamu Masembe, Bulasio Buyisi, George Kalimu and Samalie Nambogga. They were battling with Makerere University and the Commissioner for Land registration over cancellation of their Land titles and ownership of the land by Makerere University.

 However, Makerere University has since appealed against the decision, faulting the High Court in a matter pending hearing and determination before the Appeal Court.

 It is alleged that Makerere University has on several occasions appealed to various offices appealing for help to destroy buildings and evict more than 50,000 residents including bibanja holders without following the due process of the law.

In October last year, the High Court stopped government security agencies from arresting Katanga land occupants among them Pastor Daniel Walugembe in regard to the same dispute.

 Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has since asked the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) technical wing to halt the impending evictions in Katanga near Wandegeya to stave off what he describes as undesired consequences.

 In a September 2 2021 letter to the KCCA Executive Director, Mr Lukwago warned that it will be a glaring breach of law for the physical planning directorate and the building control board to issue demolition orders and approve plans submitted by Makerere University before the Court of Appeal pronounces itself on the matter.

“I am utterly shocked at the way KCCA management team gets embroiled in matters involving flouting of court orders,” wrote Mr Lukwago adding; “Makerere University can pursue their appeal and convince the justices to overturn the High Court judgment.”

Mr Lukwago said that matters concerning Katanga Valley land have been a subject of protracted legal battles stretching from 1993 to date.

On September 15, Internal Affairs Minister, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kahinda Otafiire, directed the Inspector General of Police to guide members of the force to refrain from interfering with court orders not only in Katanga land matters but also in matters of similar nature.

 “Where a party is aggrieved, he or she should not use the Police force and the police force should not allow it to be used to defy a court order. The only course of action such a party should take should be to move to court to set aside the judgment or order he/she is aggrieved with,” Gen Otafiire wrote

 

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