Buliisa district leadership has been advised to sack district land board members for having fraudulently given out land in the district to some of the speculators including a Kampala based tycoon called Francis Kaahwa.
The advice was sounded by Yunis Nabacwa, a lands officer from ministry of land, housing and urban development during a one day dialogue on land governance in Buliisa district that was organized by Advcates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) together with Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED) held at Adonia hotel on Tuesday in Buliisa town.
Nabacwa said that, the land Act mandates district council on recommendation of district executive committee members to disappoint district land board members in case they are incompetent and said that district land board members in areas were land registrar cancelled land titles recently should leave office.
Recently, lands registrar in the ministry of lands, housing and urban development cancelled several land tittles including that of Francis Kaahwa, Henry Muganwa Kajura, the former first deputy prime minister and that of Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru of Bunyoro Kitara kingdom after realizing that they had been fraudulently processed. Nabacwa said that, the registrar of titles has powers to cancel out land titles that were unlawfully procured.
Nabacwa’s advice to the district leadership followed a complaint from Buliisa district chairman, Simon Agaaba Kinene who said that, for the three months he has been in office, he has found out that the district land board members gave Francis Kaahwa over 500 acres of land without inspection and recommendation of area land committee as required by law.
Kinene said that, he is not opposed to people acquiring land in the district but wants the process of land acquisition to be done transparently and according to the law.
Robert Opio, the acting commissioner of lands who represented Betty Amongi, the minister of lands, housing and urban development said that land belongs to the people and whoever comes out to claim ownership of the whole parish is just mad and advised district land board members to publish in newspapers in case they believe land being given out does not belong to anyone.
Opio said that, the ministry has plans to protect land that is communally owned in Buliisa like areas reserved for cattle grazing adding that, customary certificate of ownership will also be given out to residents in Buliisa right from individuals, families and communities that will apply.
Denis Obo, another official from ministry of lands, housing and urban development said that, people should not blame the ministry for mishaps in land acquisition because they at receiving end adding that, all irregularities are generated from area land committees and district land board.
Much as the district land boards are independent entities that can be sued of sue, Obo says that the board members can be held responsible for fraudulently giving out land. On evictions, Obo disclosed that land amendment Act 2010 stipulate that for people to be evicted, a notice must be issued six months before which most people do not know and therefore observed a need for sensitization so that people can protect their land most especially in the Albertine region.
He said people have lost land to land grabbers and they shift the blame to the ruling government and political leaders because when one acquire a land title and leases out land, it becomes difficult to overturn it since it involves court battles making it costly for the rural poor communities.