Attorney General defends UPDF in Wakiso land dispute

Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Attorney General has asked the Land Division of the High Court to dismiss a petition filed by businessman Frank Matovu Ssenkwajju, who is claiming ownership of land occupied by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces in Kitala, Wakiso district.

Last month, the Land Division Deputy Registrar Janeva Natukunda summoned the Attorney General to defend the allegations levied against the government by Matovu.

Matovu ran to court in April 2022, saying that he purchased the land in 2018 from Christopher Musisi, Diana Birungi, and Bernard Kiwanuka, and later transferred the land into his name in 2022.

He noted that on March 9, 2022, UPDF soldiers trespassed on the land without his knowledge, consent, or approval and fenced off part of his land. He adds that he has since been denied access to the land. Matovu through his lawyers of Sanywa, Wabwire, and Company Advocates says that all attempts by him to remove the army have been futile.

Matovu asked the court to order the army to vacate the land and issue a permanent injunction restraining the government and its agents, employees from trespassing on his land and also be compensated for the damages caused to him at a commercial interest rate of 20 percent.

However, in their written statement of defense, the Attorney General contends that during the hearing, the government will raise a preliminary point of law that the case should be dismissed with costs because Matovu is not entitled to any of the remedies he is seeking.

The government states that the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs-MODVA/UPDF occupied the land in 1987 and set up a school of Political Education. However, the government which doesn’t indicate from whom they purchased the land adds that in the early 1990s, all the soldiers that had previously occupied the land were taken to fight insurgents in various parts of the country leaving the land vacant but with uniports.

“This gave encroachers and trespassers like Matovu an opportunity to occupy and even acquire titles on the army land from Wakiso District Land Board”, reads the Attorney General’s defense.

The defense adds that government shall contend that Wakiso District Land Board did not have the jurisdiction to allocate the land to different individuals and the plaintiff will be put to strict proof of how the certificate of title was acquired.

According to the government, Matovu has never been in occupation of the land in contention and that the fence was erected much earlier by UPDF in order to safeguard the land from encroachers like him since this particular piece was very close to the trading centre.

“When the insurgence subsidized, the army came back and reoccupied its land in 2010, but found that most of the land had been occupied and built up by people. On January 27th 2010, the Military Land Board went on ground and surveyed off approximately 10.347 acres of unencumbered land which were eventually secured and that’s what UPDF is occupying to date,” adds the defense. Matovu however says that he is claiming ownership of three pieces of land measuring 40 decimals each. The Attorney General denies the allegations and wants the matter which is before Lady Justice Olive Kazaarwe dismissed before it can be heard to its logical conclusion.



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