Land probe commission summons businessman over Mukono evictions

The Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters Chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has summoned businessman Dick Kihangire Banoba to appear before it over his alleged illegal eviction of over 30 families in Mukono district.

The 30 families were evicted from a 488-acre piece of land in Nama Sub-County Mukono district which he claims to own.

“There are two complaints against Mr. Banoba. One is by the family of the late Ham Mukasa who say he holds a tittle of their land illegally, he is accused alongside the commissioner of land registrar. Secondly, there is a complaint from occupants of that land who say he evicted them illegally,” the commission’s lead counsel Ebert Byenkya said.

Banoba will appear before the commission on Wednesday.

He was summoned after members of the Mukono Bibanja holders’ association led by their chairman Hosea Ssonko who is also victim of the evictions narrated their plight to the commission on Monday.

According to Ssonko, the evictees were squatters on the late Ham Mukasa’s land, and, upon his death, they started paying their ground rent (Obusuulu) to their new landlord, James Mukasa, the heir to Ham Mukasa.

Banoba later laid claim over the land. He subsequently started collecting obusuulu from the squatters on the land.

In a sudden turn of events, Banoba rejected the busuulu money and asked the squatters to leave his land.

“We tried to pay through the Sub County but failed after the officials there told us that they had no mandate to collect the busuulu from a private estate. We had to settle back and wait for what comes next,” Ssonko said.

Ssonko accused Banoba of using the courts, police and State Attorney’s office in Mukono to carry out atrocities against them.

Banoba has been battling with the squatters on the land since 1996 when he had some of them jailed.

Later in 2012, he dragged 12 squatters to court on charges of damaging his property.

The accused were asked to compensate Banoba in addition to vacating the land.The commission later observed that there were irregularities in court orders and procedures like exaggerated compensation amounts, which Ssonko alluded to saying it was a means to evict occupants.

Banoba claims to have bought the land from former minister Dr Emmanuel Lumu, a 102 year-old who served in the first post independence government.