KAMPALA. The Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters has discovered another controversial court order that Ankole prince Andrew Tendo used to try and evict 3,000 squatters from a three-square mile land in Kyankwanzi District.
The commission was yesterday surprised to learn that the order, issued by a magistrate’s court, was made to appear as if there was a dispute whereas there was none.
The commission’s deputy lead counsel, Mr John Bosco Souza, said the order was made without hearing from the 3,000 squatters.
“Since there were no parties, the order to open boundaries was misinterpreted by the locals to be an eviction. That is why there was violence,” Mr Souza said, adding that the law applied in issuance of the order had no precedent.
When asked about the order, Mr Tendo, a cousin to the late crown prince of Ankole John Barigye, said it had been drawn by his lawyers and he took it to the magistrate to endorse.
“These are kinds of orders that we need to refer to the High Court for review,” Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the commission chairperson, said.
Recently, Justice Bamugemereire, in a press statement, lashed out at judicial officers for issuing irrational orders and judgements that have escalated land evictions and plunder in the country.
The Judiciary and Uganda Law Society accused her of using wrong methods to criticise the officers.
The commission scoffed at Prince Tendo’s plea to classify the squatters on the land some of whom he referred to as new comers from DR Congo and others as members of the Interahamwe, a Rwandan militia implicated in the 1994 genocide.
“Prince, if you are a Munyankore and you can migrate to Kyankwanzi, why do you think other people should not move?” Justice Bamugemereire asked Mr Tendo.
The prince acquired a five-year lease for the land which was renewed for another 10 years but he had utilised a few acres of the three-square public land.
Referring to Mr Tendo’s land title as a “piece paper”, the commissioners observed that there were many landlords moving around with such titles as proof of land ownership yet they do not know where the land is.
The commission told him that his title was awarded without following proper procedure, but Mr Tendo insisted he was returning to the land of his ancestors—the Bachwezi.
According to the commission, their was no site visit by Kiboga District Land Board to establish whether there were people on the land or not as required by the Land Act and whether there were squatters who had applied for the same land.
In his Wednesday testimony, Mr Tendo refuted former Kiboga District Land Board chairman Ferdinard Yiga’s claim that the board had visited the disputed land before the lease was granted to the Ankole prince.
Commissioners said they doubted Mr Tendo’s capacity to install a wet maize processing plant to warrant being given such land.
Justice Bamugemereire branded him a hustler who was unable to hustle life on a three-square mile land at the expense of other people.
The commission rejected his request to survey the land and open boundaries and wondered how he got the title without accessing the land.