The Omukama of Bunyoro Kiatara kingdom, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru together with Hoima Sugar Ltd have asked high court at Masindi to restrain Uganda Land Commission (ULC) from cancelling land titles for land comprised of plot 216 Buhaguzi block 2 at Kwangwali in Hoima district.
The hearing of the application seeking for a temporary court order filed by the Omukama and Hoima Sugar was held on Wednesday morning before Masindi high court assistant registrar, Julie Aciyo in the high court chambers.
Simon Kasangaki of Kasangaki and Company advocates together with James Nangwala represented the Omukama and Hoima Sugar Ltd respectively.
Counsel Nangwala submitted that, the applicants (Omukama and Hoima Sugar Ltd) are registered proprietors of the suit land equivalent to 5,779.7 hectares of which the Omukama has free hold title and Hoima Sugar Ltd has a lease title that was derived from the first applicant’s title.
Court heard that, in a letter dated far back in 2011, the commissioner was informed about restitution of land to Omukama including forest plantations and Kyangwali ancestral land is one of them. “A survey report was made in presence of National Forestry Authority (NFA) filed supervisor and ULC instructed issuance of title and therefore it is a misnomer and abuse of process for ULC to turn around an action the commissioner was always privy to”, explained Nangwala.
The Omukama’slawyer said that, ULC is aware of the suit filed by NFA challenging the issuance of title and when the commissioner for land turns around, it amounts to abuse of court process because a letter was issued to Hoima Sugar Ltd notifying her of a notice to cancel the certificate of title.
“The letter also intimates an intention to give a hearing to the applicants which amounts to parallel hearing of a matter which is before court. These are issues that can’t be raised casually before the commission but the commissioner has continued to act contrarily to prejudice and in this case that is disobedience to subjudice”, Nangwala stated.
He added that: It is on that account that an interim order is thought to restrain ULC from carrying out parallel proceedings involving cancellation of the suit titles pending disposal of miscellaneous application 72 of 2016 filed in this court”.
It is also important to note that, advocate for Natural Resource and Development Organization, a nongovernmental organization filed a suit seeking cancellation of the same titles. Nangwala therefore believes that, in absence of a restraint order, if the titles are cancelled, the suit will remain academic on court records.
Nangwala added that, the commissioner seems to have predetermined mind to cancel the suit land titles because he notified the applicants to return duplicate copies of titles even when the decision had not been made on allegations that they were depleting a forest reserve, something that is wrong.
On the other hand, Johnson Bigir, the senior registrar of titles who represented Uganda Land Commission told court that, the suit land titles had already been cancelled and the prayers by the applicants were time bad and if interim order is granted, it would be of no consequence.
Bigir added that, the cancellation of titles was made basing on the actions of the applicants but Counsel Simon Kasangaki rejected his submissions saying they were behind bars since they are not on court record.
Lawyer Nangwala also disagreed with Bigir saying that, in their submission to court, Uganda land Commission never disclosed procedures that were followed while cancelling the suit titles implying that, there wasn’t any cancellation but there was intended cancellation.
Julie Aciyo, the presiding judge however rejected Bigir submissions that were not on court record and scheduled the ruling for application filed by the Omukama and Hoima Sugar Ltd for today (15th September 2016) at 9:00am.