Ugandan Judge dragged to court over 300-acre land row

Mamos Media

Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire. PHOTO/ courtesy

By Franklin Draku

A businessman has sued Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire and three others over a disputed piece of land in Kiryadongo District.

The land in question, measuring up to 300 acres, is part of about 5,000 acres Justice Kiryabwire owned through inheritance.

Mr Stephen Wekomba filed the case in court in March 2020, accusing Justice Kiryabwire and three other siblings of repossessing land that was already paid for by the government and forcing him out of it.

The businessman wants an injunction on the activities of Justice Kiryabwire and others, and also wants courts to award him cost of the suit and other damages.

“I took the matter to court because I wanted justice….The judge is using police to intimidate people. He has used force to fence off the land, arrested my manager and imprisoned him,” Mr Wekomba told Daily Monitor yesterday.

Mr Wekomba, in his application to court, says he was part of the squatters who settled on the said land for more than 12 years before 1995, and that when they were sued by the respondent, government entered into a consent judgment and the owner was paid off. He now wonders why the same person wants to repossess the same land after being paid. Advertisement

Documents presented to court indicate that Justice Kiryabwire sued squatters who had settled on the land after he unsuccessfully attempted to evict them. He also sued the Government of Uganda through the Attorney General and Masindi District Land Board.

Government then settled the matter out of court and compensated Justice Kiryabwire to tune of Shs1.7b to allow the squatters stay on the land.

The squatters occupied 2,377 acres, while the judge was left with more than 3,000 acres. Of what had been paid for by the government, Mr. Wekomba reportedly had 300 acres.

Justification

Mr. Wekomba now says after all the earlier agreements and payments, the judge has turned around to repossess the land for which he was already paid.  In the affidavit accompanying the application, Mr Wekomba said since the start or January 2020, several people have been entering the said portion of the land, claiming it belongs to the respondents and have since opened a road using graders ensuring that his kibanja and land falls in that area.

Mr Wekomba says the respondents have chosen to frustrate any effort which would involve him in the process of re-surveying the land.

Speaking on behalf of Justice Kiryabwire and others, Kibuuka Aggrey Company Advocates, and M/s Ntambirweki Kandeebe and Company Advocates, in an affidavit filed on April 8, 2021, said the issues raised by the applicant in his affidavit are false.

“That I reasonably believe that this application has no merit and basis in law the applicant’s application has no chances of success. That in further reply to paragraphs 2 and 3 of the affidavit of Wekomba Stephen, it is not true that since March 1, 2021, I and other respondents have been entering the applicant’s land (described as Ranch 13B), cutting down trees, destroying his structures and chasing away his cows as alleged ,” Counsel Kibuuka said.

He added: “That we did not interfere or enter the applicant’s said land, if any, the respondents herein and I, legally occupy and work on land belonging to the estate of late Prof Kiryabwire described as Ranch 13A and not the applicant’s alleged land.”

However, Kizigo Nyote of Nyote and Company Advocates, the firm representing Mr Wekomba, told court that the respondents have never surrendered the title of the land as agreed upon in the consent judgment.

Source Daily Monitor.

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