A joint force of the Uganda Police Force and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers has been beefed up and deployed at Mandwiga Village in Kyangwali Sub-county, Kikuube District, following a fresh eruption of land conflict between the former bibanja holders and the current bibanja claimants.
The conflict flared up immediately after the government through the Land Fund compensated land title holders who evicted more than 100 households from the land measuring approximately seven square miles in 2010.
Those who were compensated included the former directors of Nguse Ranchers including the Minister of Public Service, Mr Wilson Muruli Mukasa and the now deceased former Bugambe Sub-county Chairman, John Bahemuka.
The government’s stand for compensation was intended to return the land to the bonafide occupants who had lived on it for 12 years prior to their eviction.
The compensation sparked off a fresh conflict between the former bibanja holders who were evicted in 2010 demanding to repossess their land and the new bibanja holders claiming to have bought the land from the brother to Minister Muruli and the children of the deceased Bahemuka, the former directors of Nguse Ranch.
The fracas coerced the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Amlan Tumusiime liaising with the UPDF 13th battalion commander, Col Edward Kaddu, to rush to the locus where they found a number of new bibanja holders developing the land.
The land developers told the RDC that they had since 2020 and 2022 been buying the bibanja ranging from 2-35 acres each at a cost of Shs2m allegedly from the brother to Minister Muruli and the children of the late Bahemuka.
Ms Joan Matsiko, a new kibanja holder alleged that “in 2022, Byega James, one of the directors pocketed Shs5.5b as government compensation and continued to resell the land. I bought 12 acres of land with each being sold at Shs2m meaning that I paid Shs24m.”
Mr John Bosco Mugisha, another new kibanja holder said he bought five acres of land from Mr Johnson Mbabazi at Shs2m each.
During the assessment, the new bibanja claimants accused the Mandwiga village chairman, Mr Robert Balimunsi, of allegedly appending his signature on sale agreements yet he purportedly knew that there was no any unoccupied piece of land there.
However, Mr Balimunsi said he merely stamped on documents for people who wanted to recover their money but did not append his signature and stamp on the document to confirm that the claimants as true bibanja holders.
To keep peace and tranquility in the area, the RDC said the joint force of the police personnel and soldiers will keep pitching camp there for at least a month as the authorities await the intervention of the Minister of Lands.
Mr Tumusiime told the new bibanja holders that they will recover their money from those who sold the land twice before cautioning the village chairman against the alleged misuse of the stamp.
“We are working hard to ensure that you get back your money from those people who sold the bibanja more than once. As for you, Mr Chairman avoid misusing the stamp,” he said.
Following the deployment, Mr Apollo Nankunda, one of the former occupants of the land, feels a sigh of relief saying he feels assured of repossessing his land anytime.
“I feel comfortable that now this has taken place, I will regain authority over my land.”
Attempts to get comments from some of those who sold the bibanja were fruitless as they hung up their phones immediately after realising that they were talking to the press.