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Will Buganda kingdom’s new legal body stop land grabbers?

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Justice Esther Kisakye (C) with the katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga (R), former Buganda attorneys general David Mpanga (L), Godfrey Lule (3rd L) and John Katende (2nd R) as well as the current attorney general Christopher Bwanika at the launch of Buganda Royal Law Chambers

One of the most pertinent issues in Uganda revolves around land, especially in Buganda region where many peasants are still struggling to register their land or kibanja due to lack of access to legal representation. As a result, illegal evictions and land-grabbing have become routine, something that has worried the kingdom leadership for years.

However, last week’s creation of the Buganda Royal Law Chambers could herald a new chapter in helping poor people with legal representation, writes DAVID LUMU.

On August 14, the cream of Buganda legal brains converged at Bulange gardens in Mengo to officially launch the Buganda Royal Law Chambers (BRLC), the new legal department for the kingdom.

Supreme court justice Esther Kitimbo Kisakye, who was the chief guest, described the move as a move long overdue; Charles Peter Mayiga, the katikkiro, praised it as a breakthrough while Christopher Bwanika, the kingdom attorney general, noted that BRLC is the turning point in the fight against land grabbers because it will offer access to justice for indigent Ugandans.

“One of the biggest challenges for Ugandans is to get legal representation because it is expensive. Even as a kingdom, we have been relying on the good relations with some top law firms to represent us, sometimes at no fees,” Bwanika said.

“The situation is much harder for individuals who have no financial capacity to get the best legal representation, especially when faced with an adversary who is intent on evicting them from land. So, BRLC comes in as a department to help those people in Buganda at a minimal fee and, where necessary, in the interest of public litigation, BRLC will do so on a pro bono arrangement. It is going to be a legal aid project. The fight to ensure that our people enjoy their fundamental human rights is a noble fight which we shall carry on with integrity.”

Bwanika also noted that with this new standing legal team, it shall also assist the kingdom to manage legal risks.

NEW DAWN

Since the restoration of Buganda kingdom in 1993, it has been striving to rebuild the pillars that constitute its heritage. According to Mayiga, the establishment of BRLC will make  it not only convenient for the kingdom to oblige with the law, but will also provide it with the requisite strategic direction as it endeavors to position itself in the general scheme of things in the country.

“For instance, we aspire for a federal system of government but such an aspiration is only attainable in full compliance with the rule of law and the Constitution. Therefore, BRLC will be pivotal in this regard,” he said.

“Presently, Uganda experiences episodes that challenge the rule of law like rampant land grabbing and unlawful occupation of land, the sporadic violations of human rights and economic deprivations that affect a big number of our people. The solution lies in an emphatic observance of the law and adherence to the constitutional provisions, however weak or inadequate the institutions that enforce them may be.”

Mayiga also decried what he described as some laws and court orders being morally repugnant.

“St Peter’s church Ndeeba was demolished following due process but the action of demolishing the church touches upon people’s spiritual inclinations and beliefs and I believe these ought to have been taken into account by the court,” he said.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT

In the same vein, he pointed out that there is a profound symbol of Buganda heritage at the same site in the form of Oluzzi Kalinda next to the church. “It is a royal spring that supplies water to the Kabaka during the coveted ritual of coronation of the Kabaka at Naggalabi, Buddo. Therefore, my first instruction to BRLC is to pursue all lawful means to secure, preserve and protect Oluzzi Kalinda,” he said.

On her part, Justice Kisakye commended Buganda kingdom and all those who conceived this idea. “I have no doubt that this initiative will bear high dividends for the kingdom,” she said. Kisakye, who will mark 11 years at the Supreme court in October, reinforced this notion, basing on a recent experience she had at the Supreme court, where she couldn’t hear a matter in which a kibanja holder, unbeknown of the court process, appealed to her for relief from eviction.

“I told him that he is in a wrong forum; however, I advised him to seek legal services from various organizations. So, I’m very proud to be here when the kingdom is launching a legal department whose mission is to provide legal aid to indigent Ugandans,” she noted.

“So, for the many senior counsels and members of the legal fraternity present, the kingdom has launched this initiative but it will not be able to carry out this function effectively if you don’t come to its assistance, especially in this area where some of the people who greatly need legal services cannot afford to pay for them. The country is crying out for justice.”

Also drawing from her experience as a lawyer at the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (Fida-Uganda) before she joined the bench, Kisakye said the creation of BRLC was long overdue.

“A lot of progress has been made since the kingdom resumed its activities 27 years ago. However, BRLC has been established at a time when the kingdom continues to face many challenges of a legal nature like the quest for a federal system of government in Uganda, the place of the Buganda kingdom within the current constitutional order, recovery of property confiscated by government as well as the issues of securing and enforcing competing rights in land within the overall legal regime governing land ownership and holding in Buganda. Then there is documentation and enforcement of unwritten Buganda customary law,” she said.

“We all know that the kingdom has over centuries produced positive values and customs which were saved by the 1995 Constitution but when these laws are unwritten, everyone interprets them as they choose. That’s why I believe it is time for us to move forward and I see the BRLC having a role here.

“So, given the challenges I have highlighted above, it is my conviction that BRLC will go a long way to assist the kingdom to render this service that is required but in short supply.”

Kisakye reiterated that she has no doubt BRLC will bring affordable, quality and efficient legal services to the kingdom but it would also go a long way to safeguard the interests of the kingdom of Buganda and its people.

“Addressing current and future challenges requires a team of professional and dedicated advocates who are willing to serve above self and who are committed to serving the kingdom with integrity,” she said.

Kisakye also delved into the controversy of the demolished church. “For those who have had the opportunity of reading the judgment, you can see that the lawyers could have done better. We can only judge the cases as good as they come. If you do not make [good] arguments before court, I may be the proud daughter of Buganda but I would follow the law. So, help develop our jurisprudence by presenting good arguments.”

She summed up the presentation by warning that as BRLC strives to be a centre of excellence, it should recruit the very best in legal practice. “I trust there are good brains that can build the institution that will make us all proud as well as safeguard and protect the BRLC brand. We look forward to seeing BRLC becoming a legal think-tank for the kingdom and its institutions.”

BACKGROUND

In practice, BRLC is now the official representative of all Buganda entities such as Buganda Land Board (BLB), Kabaka Foundation and Buganda Cultural and Development Foundation, among others.

According to Dennis Bugaya, the BLB spokesman, a similar institution that resembles BRLC was created under the 1900 Buganda agreement until the kingdom was abolished in 1966. “It used to fall under the office of Omulamuzi [judge]. Presently, Omulamuzi is the equivalent of Ssabawolereza (Attorney General); so, BRLC is equivalent to the Attorney General’s chambers,” he said. “This is now the reestablishment of the office.”





Source – observer.ug

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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