A former minister is cursing his gods after court upheld an earlier ruling in which he was ordered to vacate from land that he illegally grabbed from a group of orphans under the guise of his 7-year-old son.
Eng. Simon D’Ujanga, the former State Minister for Energy, will now have to count his losses after court blocked a miscellaneous application his son Ronald Dennis D’Ujanga had filed in court to circumvent court orders to vacate the same land.
In his miscellaneous application vide No. 965 of 2021 arising from Civil Suit No. 309 of 2015, Ronald sought orders for court to set aside the exparte judgment/decree that was entered against him to vacate the land comprised in Kyadondo Block 245, plot 259 at Kiwuliriza, Kabalagala Kampala city.
D’Ujanga Junior prayed to court to allow him to file a defence and be heard inter party on grounds that he had a good defence which court didn’t give him time to present.
D’Ujanga’s prayers stemmed from a suit in which the orphans of late Nalongo Namirembe Gertrude led by Harriet Barbra Babirye filed a main application seeking a declaration that D’Ujanga and a one Paul Kiggwe illegally acquired their land comprised in Kyadondo Block 245, plot 259 which was further illegally subdivided creating plots No. 494 and 495. The orphans averred that the subdivision and registering of the suit into the names of D’Ujanga and Kiggwe without their consent was illegal. They thus wanted court to order for cancellation of the titles, evict the illegal occupants and also award them general damages, interest and costs. And indeed, court judged in the orphans’ favour, a Judgment both D’Ujanga and Kiggwe found unfair on their side and hence put in miscellaneous applications asking court to set aside the same judgment.
However, the pair will now have to contend with other remedies as court dismissed their applications and upheld the orders for them to leave.
Why court favoured orphans
While dismissing D’Ujanga’s application on May 11, 2022, Justice Alexandra Nkonge Rugadya wonted that the applicant had all the time to file his defence but was simply negligent not to do so having filed an initial defence in 2015.
Court also trashed D’Ujanga’s claim that he was not served with hearing notices after it was averred that on May 4, 2015, the respondents had served summons to his lawyers after making contact with him. Court therefore “found no sufficient reason adduced by the applicant to warrant setting aside the judgment”. As such, his application was dismissed with costs.
Kiggwe’s application was also dismissed on grounds of inconsistencies in his defence as well as an apparent deliberate intention to delay justice. For instance, court discovered that while he claimed that he and his sister got registered on the title in January 1981 when both were still minors, his mother on her part acquired her interest in 1996.
Court documents seen by this website indicate that the minister’s son’s woes in this saga begun after his interest on this land was cancelled by court. This was after investigations revealed that although it was registered in his name while he was still a minor, his father fraudulently acquired it.
In the matters adjudged vide Civil Suit 309 of 2015, court discovered that the said land was originally registered as Plot 259 under instrument No. KLA 97166 in the names of (now late) Gertrude Namirembe Nalongo; who jointly owned it with her children — Kato Henry (now deceased; a minor until August 10, 1993), Barbra Harriet Babirye (also a minor until August 10, 1993) and Francis Namyenya (a minor until April 13, 1991). These children lived with their mother on the said land in Kabalagala while their father occasionally visited the home from his own home in Katwe where he lived. Babirye Harriet, one of the orphans narrated that by 1983, their father Difasi Lubowa Salongo had developed intentions to grab the land from their mum thus the beginning of misunderstandings between the couple. Namirembe consequently began fearing for her life and even opened up to her mother and eldest daughter, Cotilda Night Namubiru, about a looming plot by her husband to kill her over the same land.
And indeed, on June 25, 1983, thugs raided Namubiru’s house which also had a bar at night and shot her to death. The thugs then ransacked the home in search of the land title but failed to locate it. It however emerged that by the time of her murder, Nalongo had kept the title with her close friend called Naiga (now dead).
Upon Namirembe’s death, Naiga handed the title to her (Namirembe’s) husband Lubowa who had by then taken his orphaned children to his home in Katwe.
In 1985, however, Namubiru on learning about the plot to sell her mother’s land, put under the custody of the Administrator General on September 19, 1985 since her siblings who were registered on the title were still minors.
Upon his children Henry Kato and Harriet Babirye attaining adulthood in 1993, Salongo Lubowa in 1995 attempted to convince Kato to accept to sell the land. However, the boy would later hide the title after realizing it had his and his sisters’ names as owners. An incensed Lubowa, however, fraudulently processed a special title under his names.
Consequently, he, in 1996, subdivided the land into Plots 494 and 495. He then sold Plot 494 to his lover Rosemary Nakityo (now dead) who bequeathed it to her son Ronald Kiggwe. He then sold Plot 495 to Minister Simon D’ujanga, who later gifted it to his 7-year old son, Ronald Dennis D’ujanga. By that time however, the genuine title was in the hands of Henry Kato, who denied selling or ever granting anyone permission to sell the land. Kato would however get shocked when the minister and Kiggwe started chasing him from the land he had reoccupied by then on grounds that his father had sold it to them. Consequently, he placed a caveat on the land on April 14, 1996. However, on January 14, 1998, the caveat was mysteriously removed and Ronald Denis Dujanga registered as the rightful owner of the land. A bitter clash ensued between Kato, his father and the buyers, forcing Kato to inform his sisters that his life was under threat over the same land. And indeed, his fears were vindicated unknown assailants attacked and shot him down in 2002.
Kato’s death scared his siblings into silence but they only resumed pursuing the matter after 2008 when their father, Salongo Lubowa crashed to death in a motor accident at Katwe, Kabakanjagala road.
Court Battles Begin
On getting hold of the land documents after their father’s death, the remaining orphans led by Babirye and Namyenya approached the Minister and Kiggwe and ordered them to give them back their land. However, their efforts were futile and it is against this background that they dragged them to court.
In its investigations, court discovered several fraudulent actions and inconsistencies in the land transaction thus ruling in favour of the plaintiffs.
It was for instance argued that the seller of the land had no right to do so because he had no powers over it since letters of administration of the estate of Late Namirembe had been granted to the Administrator General who remained with them until November 14, 2014 when they were renounced and given to three family members including Hadija Mawanda, Musoke Ali and Barbra Harriet Babirye.
Court also averred that the children’s father had a fiduciary relationship with the children (orphans) and so was deemed to be holding the property only as a trustee. He was thus not permitted to obtain profit from the relationship except with consent of the beneficiaries or other person to who he owed the duty.
Secondly, court discovered that the administrator General was never involved in the land transaction yet the office was the one managing the estate on the children’s behalf.
In his defense, Dujanga’s son claimed that he was not to blame because he was simply gifted the land by his father while he was just 7 years. However, court held that much as that was the case frauds were committed on his behalf by his father (purchaser) and so he cannot be allowed to keep an advantage which was obtained in bad faith through fraud.
Court particularly averred that Dujanga was a fraudulent purchaser and who had intent to wrongfully acquire the land which also had notice of fraud.
It was stated that as a prospective buyer, the minister ought to have known that the vendor had no authority to deal with the land. He was also deemed to have known or believed to have actually known prior that the Administrator General was managing the estate at the material time.
Secondly, court held that because the vendor had no title to pass onto the minister, the minister thus had constructive knowledge that of the intention by the plaintiff’s father to dispose of what did not rightfully belong to him. Court also further held that Dujanga deliberately refused to make inquiries on the land because he had fraudulent intention to defeat the plaintiff’s interest.
On his part, Dujanga (junior) was also held liable for conspiring in the fraud by failing or refusing to validate his title on the land upon attaining adulthood. Court thus held that his reluctance shows that he was aware that he was being used by his father as a cover to acquire the same land.
Dujanga’s claim to the land was also heavily dented by forgeries that were discovered on his land title. For instance, court discovered that on October 27, 2005, the executive director of Express Microfinance Limited was informed by the Principal Registrar of Titles that the signatures and seal on the titles for plot 495 were forged. It was also discovered that the defendant possessed a special certificate of title prior to publishing the same in the gazette as required by law. It is on the backdrop of these findings that the Dujangas were ordered off the land. However, they defied court when on Wednesday May 12, 2021, they blocked the orphans from accessing the land as was directed by court judgment issued on August 16, 2019 by Justice Alexandra Nkonge Rugadya at the Kampala High Court Land division.
They then went ahead to put in the miscellaneous applications as a way of delaying the orphans’ access to their land.
Through their lawyers of Barnabas DK Dydai & Co. Advocates, the victims consequently petitioned the office of the Prime Minister as well as the State House Anti-corruption Unit seeking the investigation of ex-Minister D’Ujanga for his transgressions and also seeking that he be forced to comply with a court ruling that ordered him to relinquish the same land to the plaintiffs.
However, the plaintiffs’ cause will be heavily helped by the latest court ruling which trashed their tormentors’ miscellaneous applications.
Watch this space!!