President Yoweri Museveni has ordered tough action against any judicial officer(s) who authorize(s) dubious land evictions. The tough order will be effected in line with a ban on all land evictions that will be carried out without the consent of the respective District Security Committees (DSC) throughout the country.
In a letter dated February 28, 2022, addressed to the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, and using his powers under Article 98(1) and 99(1) of the Constitution that enjoins him to ensure good governance and protect the Constitution, the President directed that:
“No eviction should be allowed to take place in a district without the consent and direct observation of the District Security Committee (DSC), chaired by the Resident District Commissioners/Resident City Commissioners (RDCs/RCCs) and direct consultation with the Minister of Lands.
According to Faruk Kirunda, the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary, the President said that if this is not done and the illegal evictions go ahead, the members of the District Security Committee will all be held responsible and action will be taken against them.
It should be noted that the district security committee was created by the National Security Council Act, which came into force on June 23, 2000. According to Section 6 of this act, the District security committee is headed by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), with the District Internal Security Officer serving as its secretary. Other members of the committee include the: district chairperson, secretary responsible for defence in the district council committee; chief administrative officer of the district, and District Police Commander. Others include; the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces commanding officer or the Reserve Force Commander in the district, the District Prisons Commander, the District Criminal Investigations Department Officer, and any other person whom the committee deems fit to co-opt on the
committee. In its current composition, the RDC will be the first person to be held accountable for any lapses by the district security committee.
Kirunda, however, noted that the President’s directive spares the UPDF representatives who may not be in the know of the substance of the issues involved.
JUDICIAL OFFICERS NOT SPARED
Kirunda added that in the same communication, the President requested His Lordship the Chief Justice to prevail upon the Justices and Magistrates who violate the Constitution by illegally evicting people in collusion with land grabbers.
In the recent past, the president has consistently taken issue with judicial officers who have exacerbated land crises in the country through dubious rulings that are given to powerful land grabbers who bribe judicial officers and receive dubious eviction orders against bona fide but poor land owners and/or squatters.
Against this background, therefore, the president further directed the Minister of Lands to inform the Attorney General about such abuses by judicial officers so that legal action can be taken against them.
It should be noted that following growing concerns of land evictions — which are said to have cost the NRM votes in Buganda region — the government led by the President is pushing for reforms to achieve a pro-people land tenure system.
High on this agenda is the abolition of Mailo land, which the President called ‘evil’ and fomenting land problems in the country.