Jinja – High Court sitting in Jinja has fixed 25 February, 2021 as date for hearing of a defense from embattled businessman Thummar Jay Maganalal Patel (defendant) in a civil suit filed by Tirupati Development Uganda Ltd over a 13-acre piece of land situated on plot 24 Kyabazinga Way in Jinja City.
It should be remembered that the Commission of Inquiry into land matters’ deputy lead counsel John Bosco Suuza grilled Thummar Patel for exerting pressure on public officers, concealing his interests in the transaction, forgery of documents as well as using his financial power to do unlawful
The anomalies include fabrication of Jinja District Council Minutes, forgeries in Jinja district Land Board Minutes as well as other paper works used in processing the freehold title over public land leased by Jinja Municipal Council for 17 years from Uganda Land Commission.
Others are alleged bribery of civil servants, intimidation of members of the land boards and using financial muscle to manipulate public officers and civilians.
According to sources, since then several civil servants have lost their Jobs and their families languishing as a result of termination from work.
Others who were threatened as a result of resisting the illegal transactions on the land are still living in fear of their lives, on ground that they are still trailed by unknown people, a matter we could not
During a witness testimony, former Jinja District Land Board Chairperson Innocent Ngobi Ndiko distanced herself from minutes extracts purportedly used to allocate the land to Patel saying it was forgery.
Ndiko, an advocate of the High Court with 25 years of experience, told the Court presided over by Lady Justice Jeanne Rwakakooko that the then Board
Secretary Robert Kitimbo forged her signatures.
‘…whatever Kitimbo did eventually prompted me to resign as JDLB chairperson because I did not want to associate my name and reputation with such illegalities…’ she told the court and presented specimens of her genuine signatures against the forged ones.
The Tirupati land saga hit the headlines in 2019 when it became a subject of investigations by the Commission of Inquiry into land management headed by Justice Catherine Bamugeirere.
In the more than 120 minutes in the witness dock, Ndiko who also appeared before the Commission described the Jinja Land Board as problematic adding that minutes used in allocation of land had numerous errors making land transactions questionable.
Earlier outgoing Jinja Mayor Majid Batambuze testified against Patel maintaining that Tirupati which has several business outlets in Kampala
still has a valid running sub lease granted by the Council.
He pointed out that controversy broke out after a group of individuals acquired titles over the same piece of land in 2018, purportedly with consent from both Jinja Municipal Council and Jinja District Land Board.
Batambuze also dismissed the 15 June,2020 special council convened by the outgoing Speaker Moses Molson Bizitu as illegal since the Government had
issued a circular halting all land related transactions during the lockdown.
Patel whom many want to be invested on bribery and forgery related cases is being represented by Kampala lawyers Sylvester Wamboga and Henry Nyegenye of M/s Arcadia Advocates while Tirupati has employed the services of Jordan
Ssebuliba Kiwanuka of Aegis Advocates and Simon Peter Ssekidde and Caroline Nankwanga of Ssekidde Advocates.
The LC1 chairman of Nalufenya B Village, where the land is located Nicholas Elwangu also testified supporting Tirupati as the true owners of the prime land.
Justice Rwakakooko who closed hearing of witness testimonies from the plaintiff will now begin hearing witnesses from the defendant which will
guide the court on who of the two parties legitimately owns the land in question.
Among those expected to give testimonies in support of Patel are Jinja Town Clerk Ambrose Ocen in his capacity as the accounting officer who has already submitted a sworn affidavit and Patel himself.
‘…I state that there was no fault on the part of the council recognizing the decision of JDLB as well as taking a decision which in its view saved
the municipality of hefty legal costs…’, Ocen defends.
In the two-page affidavit dated 28 september,2020, Ocen further states that
the cancellation of the parent lease in favor of JMC automatically terminated the sublease in favour of Tirupati.
‘…I am aware that JMC has never challenged the decision of JLDB reentry and cancelling its lease interest in court…’, the Town Clerk who has repeatedly denied taking sides stated.