Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has made modifications to the new land titles, which will bear security features to guard against fraud and forgeries in land transactions.Under the new arrangement, for anyone to access their certificate of title from the ministry, they must be coded with holders’ National Identification Numbers (NINs), according to a public notice published in the national gazette on February 1.Mr Robert Opio, the acting Commissioner for Land Registration, also stated in the gazette that each Certificate of Title to be issued by the Ministry will have a unique matrix bar-code imprinted on it whereas the Mobile Phone contact and email address of the registered owner shall also be imprinted on the Certificate of Title against his or her registered name. “I hereby modify the forms of Freehold, Mailo and Leasehold Certificates of Title provided for under the Third Schedule to the Registration of Titles (Cap 230) and the Forms for Condominium of Title provided for under the Third Schedule of the Condominium Property Registrations 2002, which modified forms shall come into operation with effect from the date of publication of this notice,” reads part of the notice.Ministry officials say the features are meant to curb the rampant fraudulent land acquisition in the country and make it hard for a person intending to forge land titles or land transfers. “The NIN shall be entered against the name of the registered owner,” adds the notice. Advertisement
The new certificates of titles are to be issued by the department of land registration. The arrangement, however, does not affect Certificates of Titles that have already been issued before the date of publication of the notice.The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MoLHUD) has been receiving complaints over land grabbing whereby the fraudulent occupants either secure land titles on any dormant land or evict people using fake titles.Under the new arrangement, a miniature deed-plan shall also be embedded onto the body of the Certificate of the Title in addition to the usual deed-plan.The government clarified that: “All the Certificates of Title that have already been issued before the date of publication of the notice, based on the old templates of Certificate of Title, shall continue to be used for the purposes and intent”. Mr Opio yesterday revealed to Daily Monitor in an interview that the Ministry was in the process of issuing the relevant guidelines that will be followed by the Area Land Committees and the District Land Boards while processing the new Certificates of Title.Lands minister Beti Kamya and her junior colleague Persis Namuganza were not available for a comment. Ms Kamya neither picked up nor returned our repeated phone calls while Ms Namuganza said: “ I am too busy with another matter”.However, Ms Betty Amongi, the Minister for Kampala, who was until December the Minister for Lands, hailed the roll out of the project she initiated after coming into office in 2016.Ms Amongi said she faced a challenge of fraudulent land transactions and efforts to cancel wrong titles were not enough to solve the problem.“I’m happy that the idea has materialised because we are now going to do better in ending forgeries and fraud in our land management system,” Ms Amongi said.The minister said with the NIN, someone’s data will easily be synchronised with the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) in order to curb any fraudulent attempt to transfer land.“In this case, the Area Land Committees and District Land Board will ensure a copy of the national ID, the Telephone number registered in the name of the person seeking to be registered on a title , are attached for the purpose of future identification,” Ms Amongi added.The government started issuing national IDs after the registration exercise that followed the operationalisations of the Registration of Persons Act, 2013.Fraudulent transactionWhen Daily Monitor visited the ministry yesterday, there was an ongoing hearing in which businessman Anatoli Kamugisha was challenging the registration of another title on one of his estates.The hearing was before Mr Akim Bagu, a legal officer in the Department of Land Registration.Mr Kamugisha alleges that he realised that the ministry had issued a title on Plot 42, Block 405 Busiro, which is located in Wamala Cell, in Kajjasi Town Council, Wakiso District.The new title issued on Plots 555 to 700, which he subdivided and sold after amalgamating Plot 42 and 487, is registered in the name of Rogers Kawalya.“I only realised this fraud when more than 150 clients who bought plots in my estate attacked me saying someone claiming to be having a title on the land had come to evict them. I was only rescued by the police but by the time I came to find out in the Ministry, my reputation had been put into question,” Mr Kamugisha said.At the hearing, the legal office had the two files. The questionable file indicates that the proprietor on the title is a one Twaha Damulira and was transferred to Mr Kawalya, who entered on the title under the name of his company Kawi Agricultural Investments.But, at the hearing, Mr Kamugisha came along with an old man Hajj Twaha Damulira, who first sold the land to Mr John Baptist Muwonge, the owner of Cooper Complex in Kampala.Mr Muwonge, according to the records on the other file, is the one who sold the 15.9 acre land to Mr Kamugisha in 2007.Mr Kawalya and his purported seller Damulira whose photo on the file represents a young man were not present despite being invited for the hearing.Hajj Damulira denied knowing the youthful Damulira ever being a member of his family or even seeing him before. Mr Bagu said he was going to compile a report to the Commissioner within two weeks before the parties are called back for the verdict.The village chairperson, Mr John Ssemwezi, told Daily Monitor after the hearing that the new Damulira and Mr Kawalya are not known residents of the area but they have been “threatening to evict people”.Mr Kamugisha said in the event that the new title is upheld by the Ministry, he would be on the verge of losing more than Shs75b in compensating the 150 people that are settled on his estate.