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Land Commission officials accused of asking for bribes

Officials at the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) have been accused of asking for bribes in order to pay out compensation for land.

Muhamadi Matovu

Geoffrey Mugisa, one of the registered proprietors and beneficiaries of the Shs10.6 billion supplementary budget allocated to facilitate people who sold their land to the government said in order to process his payments, officials from ULC asked him for a bribe.

Mugisa on Wednesday appeared before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) chaired by Hon Joel Ssenyonyi.

The committee is investigating the irregular payment of Shs10.6 billion to six land owners. The landowners are Stephen Nagenda, Twaha Lwakaana, Kosia Rwabukurukuru, Namuli Natalia, Julius Busulwa and owners of the Ndeeba Church and Lusanja land.

When he was tasked by the committee to explain how he got compensated and how he got his land of 208 hectares, Mugisa said that the process was tedious and frustrating and marred with calls for bribes.

Mugisa said some people at the commission demanded 50 per cent of the Shs1.544 billion he was supposed to get from the sale of his land.

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For the land valued at Shs1.544 billion, Mugisa got an advance payment of Shs50 million in 2016 and the outstanding balance of over Shs1.4 billion in 2021 for his 208 hectares of land.

“Someone called Michael Obongomin called me and said I would not get my money just like that. At first, he asked for 20 per cent and then later 50 per cent of the total amount I was supposed to receive for my land,” Mugisa said.

Mugisa said he didn’t bow to pressure but his compensation took a long.

Ssenyonyi tasked Mugisa to provide evidence of the phone number and details of the agent seeking the bribe, his account number where the money was paid and his phone number.

The committee also tasked Mugisa to return with a written consent from his family who gave him the land and copy of the title among others.

The committee put Mugisa under oath as he failed to present documentation on how he got the land title, alongside the inconsistencies in his defence statements.

By Racheal Fetaru

Ugandan Youth Empowerment Activist, Executive director of The Northern Press and Co-Founder of L'Oyet MediAtech Corporation.