High court of Uganda at Masindi has issued an order permitting Bunyoro Kitara Reparation Agency (BUKITAREPA) Ltd to sue seven district land boards of Kibaale, Hoima, Masindi, Buliisa, Kagadi, Kakumiro and Kiryandongo that comprises of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.
BUKITAREPA intends to sue the said seven district land boards on behalf and for the benefit of indigenous communities of Bunyoro Kitara kingdom affected by the illegal and unlawful allocation of their land.
The order issued on 29th September 2016 by her worship Acio Julie, the assistant registrar at Masindi high court reads in part that: “This order should be advertised in a local paper understood by the members of the indigenous communities, the new vision paper and daily monitor within 10 days. Cost to be in the cause”.
In his affidavit filed in high court under miscellaneous cause No.029 of 2016 through their lawyer, Ayena Odongo and Company Advocates, Doviko Batwale, the chairperson of the applicant company and coordinator of BUKITAREPA states that, all the indigenous people from Bunyoro Kitara kingdom have the same interest in the matter and have authorized him to take action to ensure that they get justice.
“The applicant company was established primarily to spearhead the pursuit of legal relief in matters relating to the effects of the actions and conducts of respondents herein since the advent of the war of conquest of Bunyoro Kitara kingdom”, Bantwale states.
BUKITAREPA passed a board resolution that it should apply for a representative order in court to represent indigenous people of Bunyoro Kitara in respect to vast land in Bunyoro Kitara kingdom which is customarily owned a type of land tenure system recognized under the constitution.
“I am informed by my lawyers that the said land is held in trust by the local governments in the region. That trust property are held by trustees in right of another or trustee holds trust property in right of his cestui que trust (beneficiaries), which I verily believe to be true. The district land board a letter to Chief Administrative Officer admits that they hold community land in trust for the benefits of people of Bunyoro”, he added.
Batwale confirms that, district land boards have abused the trusteeship and have illegally allocated, transacted and dealt with several parts of the said community land with investors like Tullow Oil Company without prior knowledge, approval and informed consent of the people of Bunyoro who are the beneficiaries.
Batwale also says that, he was informed by his lawyers that the actions of respondents are contrary to the provisions of Article 20 of the constitution of the republic of Uganda, 1995 and contrary to the provisions of the land Act, 1998 as amended, therefore consider it to be illegal.
When contacted for a comment about the matter, the district land board chairman in Masindi, Daudi Cwa said that he could not comment over the matter because he has not yet assumed office since he was sworn in and inducted. The former district land board chairperson for Masindi, Joss Wamara declined to talk to our reporter on phone.
Charles Ntairehoki, the LCV chairman in Kiryandongo district said that they have land that belongs to Bunyoro Kitara kingdom, the land that belongs to central government like ranches, communal land and land that is privately owned by individual. He denied claims that the district land board has been giving out community land to investors because most of the land is customarily owned.
On the other hand, Kadiri Kirungi, the LCV chairman in Hoima district said that, Uganda is democratic country which allows people who are not contented to go to court to seek for justice and therefore BUKITAREPA has a right to sue district land boards.
He however said that, according to the constitution of Uganda, land belongs to the citizens but not regions or tribes and that Batwale himself should not confusing people in darkness because much as he is from Bunyoro, he owns land and buildings in Buganda. To him, Batwale seems to be sectarian.