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By Otim Nape

What you are about to read under this article will leave you convinced that given the level at which impunity and crime have reached, nobody is powerful enough to claim being sufficiently safe anymore to be feared by wrongdoers. At least not the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe Magunda who, by law, is among the 5 most powerful people in the land. We have reliably learnt that very recently, Katureebe secretly wrote and submitted a seven (7) page memorandum reporting to the land commission of inquiry chairperson Justice Catherine Bamugemereire calling on her to come to his rescue. Besides shedding light and detailing the circumstances under which he got the land (on leasehold terms), Katureebe’s written complaint enumerated criminal-minded individuals who were trying to fraudulently grab his land. It measures 2.6 square miles and Katureebe bought it from prominent city lawyer Mugyenyi who died two years ago. He purchased the land in 2005 and has been in active possession and occupation of the same since that time. It’s common for such fraudsters to grab land more easily in instances where the owner is away for such a long time. But in this case, Katureebe is regularly on the land and actually has cross Boran cows grazing on it as part of his vast livestock business there. It measures 2.6 square miles and its located in Ngoma Sub County Nakaseke district whose most prominent and outspoken legislator Lutamaguzi Semakula was the principle witness that helped the Commission to corroborate the CJ’s information and confirm that indeed he was being targeted by tricksters who specialize in grabbing people’s land and seek protection by blackmailing them with bad stories in the media in case they are prominent people. The area is actually in Nakaseke North whose MP is Syda Bbumba Namirembe but she feared interfacing with the Commission to help corroborate Katureebe’s claim fearing the fraudsters or their godfathers in Kampala can gang and sponsor someone against her at the next election. “They are very powerful and people who are known but everybody fears them. Its only me who has been risking taking to embolden my people to stand up against them and we greatly thank Justice Bamugemereire as Nakaseke residents because without her boldly coming in, I was fighting a lonely battle and there is no way I was going to win,” said Lutamaguzi in a last evening phone interview with this news website. He confirmed what our sources in the Commission had told us that it was him who risked testifying to the Commission in Camera as a witness backing Justice Katureebe’s claim. Riding on an aborted land rental agreement Katureebe had entered with someone who later died and the contract became frustrated, the fraudsters claimed it was their deceased relative’s land and not Katureebe’s. What shocked Justice Bamugemereire to the core is that, working with fraudsters in the department of land registration, the fraudsters even had a land title which they were using to challenge Katureebe’s which incidentally had been issued years earlier prior to theirs which had been issued in connivance with shady land officials in Nakaseke. On investigating, the Commission established the fraudsters’ title was fake but even then, they still insisted it was their defense against Katureebe’s claim. Of the 2.6 square miles the Chief Justice owns in Ngoma (as a leasee), the fraudsters were claiming 800m acres using what was intentionally a fake title. Not that they didn’t know the defect on their title. No. They knew and it was all deliberate. At some point, they demanded that Katureebe pays them and buy his own land for a second time or else they would go to the media and embarrass him as a land grabber. The Chief Justice, according to the 7 page memorandum he authored to the Commission, remained firm and assured them he wouldn’t be intimidated. They even threatened him with a fake document, a copy of which they claimed had been received by the President calling on him to rein in the CJ.

Being human Katureebe became nervous and sought audience with the President to explain himself in a bid to preempt whatever the fraudsters intended to petition his office about. Katureebe secretly furnished Museveni with all the facts and the man from Rwakitura said “take it easy bwana CJ we shall get to the bottom of this.” Museveni then rang General Kale Kayihura and ordered him to get a few officers to work with teams from SFC, ISO, CMI and other security agencies and write him a report. The Museveni report naturally exonerated CJ and it’s partly what the Bamugemereire Commission relied on to corroborate the veracity of the under camera evidence Lutamaguzi Semakula gave them. Katureebe was in the end confirmed the Bonafide occupant of the 2.6 square miles of land in Ngoma. What is shocking, according to Lutamaguzi Semakula, is the fact that the fraudsters, despite being well known were left scot-free and nobody has touched them since. “They were trying to extort money from the Chief Justice in order to denounce their claim and that in itself is criminal and then secondly being complicit in forging a land title is another offence but those guys haven’t been punished enough as if they are above the law,” said the outspoken Nakaseke MP adding that “if it can happen to the CJ, then who is safe in this country?”

We have indeed confirmed from sources close to the CJ that, after failing to actualize their threats to sponsor negative articles against him in newspapers, the fraudsters shifted goal posts. They began telling Katureebe they are going to petition the President and they even had guts to advice this would be very bad for him as the President would lose trust and begin seeing him as someone using his office to grab people’s land. They proposed that the only way they would abandon their plan to take the petition to Museveni was if the CJ bribes them with Shs700m. They told him this was even too little given the damage to his name in case their petition to the President was leaked to the media.

Nakaseke MP Lutamaguzi Semakula who was CJ Katureebe’s key witness against fraudsters

State House sources show that Katureebe couldn’t take the fraudsters threats lightly having heard persistent rumors that some of these guys were somehow connected to big people in Kampala. He acted faster and brought his predicament to the President alerting him to expect a malicious petition trying to falsely implicate him in land grabbing. He gave his side of the story to the President and insisted parallel investigations be carried out since it was becoming a matter of his word against that of the fraudsters. This prompted Museveni to constitute a secret investigations team that comprised his State House staff, police, the SFC, ISO, CMI and other security agencies. Museveni got the report and it was consistent with the narrative Katureebe had shared with him earlier. We couldn’t readily establish when and how the government intends to reprimand the fraudsters whom Lutamaguzi Semakula maintains are well known land grabbers in Nakaseke district. The outspoken DP legislator insisted that these fraudsters aren’t acting alone but representatives of an invisible hand amongst the politically very powerful classes in Kampala. To comment on this story and other Mulengera news stories, call or text 0703164755



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