Nantaba Fails To Show Up In Court

State Minister for Lands Idah Nantaba on Monday afternoon failed to show up before High Court Land Division in connection to the disputed 1423 acres of land in Mukono district.

The minister’s failure to show up prompted Justice Joseph Murangira to order that the matter be heard without her input.

The minister is sued by Buziranjovu Development Ltd, a construction company, over true ownership of the land with local residents.

The company is into construction commercial houses in Buziranjovu, Mukono district.

Last week, the same court temporarily issued an injunction stopping the minister or her agents from visiting the disputed land as she had indicated to the Mukono Resident District Commissioner in her letter dated February 13 this year.

In the letter, Nantaba stated that she had received complaints from the local residents of Buziranjovu that Jonathan Wright, the managing director of the company had fenced off the disputed piece of land, imprisoned some of them and even demolished their houses; an action she said was contrary to the law.

When the matter came for hearing this afternoon, the lawyer for Buziranjovu, Alexander Kibandaba, informed court the minister was duly served with the summons but neither herself nor her lawyers, were in court.

Her absence prompted the judge to order that the case be heard without her side and judgment be delivered thereafter.

The judge also said the interim order stopping the minister from visiting the disputed land continues to be in place.

Justice Murangira further ordered the lawyer for Buziranjovu to file in written submissions that court will base on to pass its judgment at a later date that was not mentioned.

Court documents show that Wright bought the disputed land in 2005 and that there were no tenants on it either lawful or bonafide. He had plans of building commercial buildings.
However, during the period of 2006/07, some individuals settled on the land and have since claimed ownership to date.

The documents show that Wright decided to compensate these tenants on the land to ensure that he maintains a good relationship with the community and that he spent over one billion shillings.

But on February 13 this year, Wright states that he was shocked to see a letter written by the minister accusing him of denying access to the local residents who she referred to as the lawful owners and that he had evicted some without compensation.

Wright claimed the minister’s intended visit to the disputed land on February 26, was intended to breach his right to a quiet possession of the land since the land in question has no dispute as he is the lawful owner.

This comes just days after President Yoweri Museveni addressed the media on the issue of land grabbing in the country. The president announced that all land evictions involving peasants have been stopped and that those unfairly evicted would be compensated. The president set up a committee to enforce his pronouncements. Ironically, Minister Nantaba was appointed to head the committee.

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