The High Court has temporarily stopped the Commissioner of Land Registration from cancelling four land titles issued to businessman Hamis Kiggundu for the disputed 140-acre piece of land at Kigo, Wakiso District.On September 6, the acting Commissioner of Land Registration, Mr Baker Mugaino, cancelled the land titles issued to Mr Kiggundu’s Kiham Enterprises Limited.
On November 3, Justice Tadeo Asiimwe of the Land Division of the High Court issued an interim order against the Commissioner of Land Registration staying any cancellation until the determination of the pending case.“An interim order doth issue restraining the respondent, its agents or servants from effecting the order of cancellation issued on September 6 this year in respect of the applicant’s freehold titles comprised in Kyaddondo Block 273 situated at Kigo until hearing and determination of the main application,” reads the order in part.
The court has also directed that the main case be fixed for hearing.Mr Kiggundu, through his Kiham Enterprises Limited, sued the Commissioner of Land Registration challenging the decision and process that led to the cancellation of the land titles in question.Through his lawyers of Muwema and Company Advocates, Mr Kiggundu filed a civil appeal accusing the Commissioner of Land Registration of acting with “double standards and flouting the principles of impartiality and natural justice” to deliver a decision that favours the Kabaka.In the case filed on November 2, Mr Kiggundu accused Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi of conniving with the commissioner to cancel his titles without following the proper procedure.
He claimed that the “cancellation of all [his] freehold titles measuring 223 acres against a disclosed partial overlap of only 29.9 acres on the [Kabaka’s] mailo land…not ordering cancellation of Kabaka’s mailo titles overlapping Kiggundu’s freehold land by 87.12 acres”.Mr Kiggundu alleges that it was improper to cancel his titles on the basis of alleged procedural irregularities which were “neither pleaded nor proved at the public hearing”. The ruling of the Commissioner of Land Registration followed a complaint by Mengo over freehold land titles awarded to Kiham Enterprises Limited on grounds that it was issued over already existing Mailo titles owned by the Kabaka.Kabaka also complained that the titles were issued in a protected wetland (lake area) and that there were procedural irregularities in obtaining the titles.
The commissioner said he had based his decision on the fact that there was a title overlay against titles that were issued earlier.“I note that the procedure of allocating the land for the freehold titles was flawed and had irregularities and the Commissioner of Land Registration being the statutory custodian of the land register cannot maintain certificates of title on register where the due process of surveying, area land committee meetings involved illegalities that misled the office to issue titles,” Mr Mugaino ruled.He also said the disputed land was a wetland protected by law and doctrine of public trust. He quoted Section 91(2) which gives him powers to cancel certificates where the same is issued illegally or wrongfully.
BackgroundIn March, the Buganda Land Board (BLB) accused businessman Hamis Kiggundu of land grabbing and fraud over a 140 acre piece of land in Kigo, Wakiso District.The land initially comprised Block 273- Kyadondo on plots 38, 87, 99, and 110 but has since been converted into plot 23977.In a March 11 letter to the director of the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), BLB executive director Simon Kabogoza accused a former staff member of Unra, Mr William Matovu, and the station manager of Kampala, Mr Frank Rutebarika, of working with Kiham Enterprises to create a road to the contentious land.
Kiham Enterprises is a company created by Mr Kiggundu and another businessman, Mr Nakibinge Kaggwa.However, in his defence filed to the Commissioner of Land Registration, Mr Kiggundu said the land titles he obtained in Kigo were not issued on Kabaka’s land, but rather in the lake (Victoria) area which constitutes former public land.On September 6, the acting Commissioner of Land Registration, Mr Baker Mugaino, cancelled the land titles issued to Mr Kiggundu’s Kiham Enterprises Limited. Mr Kiggundu, through his lawyers, filed an appeal challenging the ruling on November 2.