The land squabbles between the Kabaka and city businessman Hamis Kiggundu are far from over.
Just over a month ago, Kiggundu sued the Kabaka and Baker Mugaino, the commissioner, Land Registration, for cancelling land titles measuring 140 acres in Kigo. Mugaino reasoned that the land was acquired illegally.
In the new development, it has been revealed that part of the land housing Ham Towers in Makerere, a building that catapulted Kiggundu to the national business stage, belongs to the Kabaka of Buganda.
Documents seen by The Observer indicate that the embattled businessman got land titles from the defunct Kampala City Council despite the fact that the land belongs to the Kabaka. The 31 decimals at Makerere are valued at about Shs 8bn but Kiggundu paid Shs 30,000.
A source at the ministry of Lands who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter intimated that the land title is registered in the names of the Kabaka of Buganda by virtue of his office on Block 9, plot 440.
“It is true this land is under contestation between Kiggundu and Buganda but I cannot give you more details because Kiggundu also has his own title for the land,” she said.
According to this source, Kabaka’s title in question was first made in the names of the Katikkiro of Buganda under the management of Buganda Land Board in the 1960s but later changed to Uganda Land Commission during the time all Buganda kingdom land was placed under government following the 1966 Buganda crisis.
When the land was returned to Buganda kingdom in 1993 following an MoU between the president and the Kabaka, the titles were again vested in the names of the Kabaka of Buganda.
The source adds that on March 11, 2016, Buganda Land Board, the organization in charge of Buganda kingdom land, petitioned the commissioner, Land Registration seeking cancellation of Kiggundu’s titles, citing illegalities during their acquisition.
“The titles are for block 9 plot 923. This land is official Mailo belonging to Kabaka of Buganda but was formerly Katikkiroship land. It was originally part of block 9 plot 440; however, we have established that the plot 440 was subdivided into plots 923, 924, and 925 for which land titles were created. Plot 923 being the one housing Ham Towers,” the then BLB managing director told the commissioner in a letter seen by this publication.
Interviewed for a comment, Denis Obbo, the Lands ministry spokesperson, said he needed more time. Sources at Kampala Capital City Authority have also confirmed that indeed Kiggundu obtained the said land titles from the old KCC.
It is still unclear how land was subdivided, and a land title was issued when the registered proprietor did not sign a mutation!
This publication has seen the area schedule of the said land and it shows that the land was subdivided back in 2007 by one Emmanuel Kennedy Ssentongo, a registered surveyor.
We have also learnt that on August 24, 2016, Buganda Land Board wrote to Kiggundu imploring him to regularize his tenancy by righting the wrongs done to acquire the said titles. In this letter, BLB told Kiggundu that the original title housing Ham Towers belongs to the Kabaka of Buganda and that there had been an illegal subdivision to create a land title for Kiggundu.
“We discovered that subdivisions were made to create plots 923, 924 and 925 without the consent/sanction by the registered proprietor. Part of land occupied by Ham Towers Building, a development established by you, sits on plot 923,” he said.
“We therefore request you to regularize your tenancy with the landlord to have a secured tenancy.”
According to the BLB spokesperson Dennis Bugaya, there are a lot of people like Kiggundu who obtained titles of Kabaka’s land through irregular means but the kingdom policy is to first approach them and amicably secure their tenancy.
“It is only after negotiations fail that we petition the commissioner for cancellation. Even in Kiggundu’s case, we first approached him and he was non responsive. We thus forwarded to case to the commissioner. We have been following up with the commissioner regularly and we are hopeful that a cancellation hearing will soon be instituted,” he said.
Noah Kiyimba, the Buganda kingdom spokesperson, noted that they are not going to relent in their pursuit to correct the wrongs.
“It is very clear there was fraud involved on that land and we are going to use all avenues to expose it,” he said.
That notwithstanding, we have also learnt that Ham Towers was not only constructed in a road reserve but also against the directive of the then acting commissioner for Physical Planning at the ministry of Lands, Savino Katsigaire.
In his letter to the secretary of Uganda Land Commission on December 5, 2006, Katsigaire noted that this area was designated as institution in the Kampala structural plan and was in close proximity to Makerere University hospital.
“A conforming user to this would either be residential, offices or any educational related activities. A commercial block should not be allowed as user of the plot,” he wrote.
However, Kiggundu went against these orders and constructed Ham Towers. On top of that, questions continue to pour in about his project aimed at reconstruction of Nakivubo stadium that has not only stalled, but was also obtained under unclear circumstances.
In unfortunate circumstances, Kiggundu used the said titles to mortgage Ham Towers to Exim bank for $4.5m. On failing to pay, he ran to Orient bank in 2015 and asked for 6.5m dollars on condition that he presented the original titles.
However, Exim bank refused to release the titles and Ham took the matter to the Commercial court, which until today is still pending. Incidentally, the same title was part of the properties Kiggundu mortgaged to Diamond Trust Bank, another protracted court battle that is still ongoing.
Source: The Observer