Minister Otafiire comes under fire over Njeru stock farm land

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister General Otafire Kahinda has come under fire before Parliament as parliamentarians put him to task to explain the circumstances under which he took over the ownership of Njeru Stock Farm in Buikwe district.

The issue was brought to the floor of the House by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga who in her communication told MPs that her office was in receipt of a petition relating to the take-over of the stock farm’s land.

“When did this government land become private land? I have received a complaint from National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data bank (NAGRIC) on that issue, and they say there is a man called Muhangi, I don’t know if that is the Muhangi who went and broke down a government building in Jinja,” Kadaga said, further telling Parliament that Otafire’s had been mentioned in the particular land grab.

Kadaga said that Parliament needed to know the relationship between Otafire and Muhangi and how the two acquired government properties with ease.

The 1,099-acre farm located at Bukaya West Village, in Njeru Municipality, is one of the government farms managed under NAGRIC which hosts a demonstration farm, a breeding centre and a research centre, among other facilities.

But Up to 504 of the total acreage of the farm has been fraudulently taken over by private individuals.

Recently, the land probe team led by Justice Catherine Banugemereire heard that Gen Otafire owns 50 acres of the land while former Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma owns up to 43 acres.   It was also recently reported that Kahinda Otafire sent a group of armed men to destroy the government facilities and take possession of the land.

The men, led by one Wilberforce Muhangi, an official from a construction firm; Global International Alliance, are said to have vandalized all equipment and structures on the site and fenced it off with iron sheets on Otafire’s orders.

Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi accused Otafire of using his influence as a minister to secure court documents to take over government property.

“If the Minister can go to court and is given permission to throw government off land, yet he must protect the government he is throwing off, isn’t this impunity and arrogance of the highest order?” Mafabi wondered.

Otafire had declined to offer an explanation to Parliament but with Kadaga’s insistence, he explained that he asked the court to throw the government out of the land because he had secured rights from the original owners following government’s failure to pay for its lease.

According to State Minister for Animal Husbandry Joy Kabatsi, part of the land that Otafire has taken over had been given to an investor to construct an animal feeds plant.