Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) Executive Secretary George William Bizibu is trapped in fresh trouble after a State House boss forced an ex-legislator to rescind a report in which parliament had exonerated the former of alleged irregular sale of a prime property in Kampala City’s Central Business District.
Documents seen by The Inspector indicate that former Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi Biribawa retracted his earlier clearance of Bizibu and the Custodian Board after Sandra Ndyomugyenyi, a Legal Officer to the President directed him to do so after she chose to resurrect a matter relating to the true ownership of a building comprised vide LRV 183, Folio 7 on Plot 9 Luwum (Allidina visram) Street) in Kampala.
Facts of this matter indicate that the property has since 1992 been a subject of investigation. The probe came after a whistleblower purportedly petitioned state house to investigate claims that the Custodian Board fraudulently awarded and later sold the building to a one Robert Mulinde instead of handing it over to government following compensation of its original Asian owners by the united nations high commission for refugees in 1972-1973 subsequent to the expulsion of Asians by President Idi Amin.
However, available documents from the land registry would show how Mulinde procured this property as early as 2008; nine years before the current DAPCB Executive secretary G W Bizibu assumed office. The matter was later taken over by the parliamentary Committee On Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) but whose investigations later proved that there was no irregularity caused by the DAPCB. It thus came as a shock when ex-COSASE chairman Kasozi buckled under the weight of Ndyomugyeni’s pressure to quash his earlier report. The Inspector dag deep into this matter and below are the findings we unearthed concerning the miraculous turnaround:
Our investigations have revealed that queries over this property began when, on August 2, 2018, state house’s Ndyomugyenyi wrote to the custodian board Executive Secretary thus:
“…The President received a petition claiming that though the above property was among those that were fully compensated by the UNHCR in 1972-73 it never returned to government as should have been the case. Instead, it’s still being occupied by the same Indians under the guise of Robert Mulinde.” Ndyomugyenyi further informed Bizibu that she had engaged the said Mulinde who informed her that the building’s former Indian owners had legally repossessed it and were in possession of a repossession certificate. That Mulinde promised to take the said Indians to Ndyomugyenyi but then vanished. However, Ndyomugyenyi directed Bizibu to investigate the matter and report findings to her.
Later, lawyers of Kibedi & Company advocates wrote to the DAPCB on October 12 and 23, 2018 seeking its indulgence over claims that some people were conspiring to grab their client’s property.
But in a November 22, 2018 letter to the Lawyers (Kibedi), DAPCB Divestiture committee Chairperson Byakatonda Abdulhu noted that the first transfer of this property happened on October 30, 1996; which was past the mandatory 5 years within which such transfer was required to be authorized by the Finance Minister.
He added that there was no compensation done for this ‘BUILDING’ but there was rather compensation of “stock” to one “Mrs. Rashid” to a tune of 85,703.50 (no currency indicated).
Subsequently, in 1992, the original owners of the building including Ayoob Haji Ebrahim, Abdulshakur Haji Ebrahim and Abdullatif Haji Ebrahim repossessed the building as vide certificate No. 1289 on November 16, 1992.
Further, on November 18, 1996, owners identified as Abdul Qadir and others registered a certificate on title for this property under Instrument No. 283773 on October 30, 1996.
MULINDE COMES IN
Byakatonda revealed that from 1996, the building would be transferred thrice until it was sold to Robert Mulinde by Sahnaz Nasser on July 8, 2008. It was then registered on him under Instrument No. 398961 at 2:47pm.
Bizibu Replies Ndyomugyenyi
However, because the contentious transactions on this property happened before Bizibu assumed office in 2017, he wrote to the Commandant Police Land Protection Unit to investigate the matter further so that he could get Ndyomugyenyi’s answers. Sadly, the police investigations report was nit produced — and it still isn’t available to date.
This forced the custodian board team to comb the relevant offices.
Kampala Land Board Queried
Deeper investigation of the building’s property file revealed that Mulinde later on November 28, 2011 converted his leasehold tenure into a freehold through the Kampala District Land Board (KDLB). However, it is at this juncture that DAPCB unearthed some inconsistencies. Thus, on October 23, 2020, Bizibu wrote to KDLB Acting Secretary Martha Komugisha to explain them. Bizibu’s letter, however, came over a year after a one Mash Investments Limited tried — albeit unsuccessfully — to lay claim over the same property.
At the time, Mash Investments’ lawyers of R. Nsubuga & Co. Advocates enquired about a minute through which KDLB agreed to convert Mulinde’s tenure from leasehold to freehold. In reply, Komugisha on March 28, 2019 said, “This is to notify you that I have checked the available records and I can confirm that the said minute KDLB 20/9.3/2011 “DOESN’T” constitutes part of our records of the board”
However, another correspondence to Robert Mulinde showed that on the same date, the same Komugisha wrote saying, “This is to notify you that I have checked the available records and I can confirm that the said minute KDLB 20/9.3/2011 constitutes part of our records of the board.” The Board apparently sat on November 30, 2011.”
Owing to the above anomalies, on October 23, 2020 Bizibu wrote to the Secretary KDLB notifying her about the investigation by state house and also asked them to particularly address the ambiguities surrounding Minute KDLB 20/9.3/2011.
“This communication serves to urgently request you to vividly verify the documents herewith attached and give a narrative on how the above property was dealt with by KDLB,” Bizibu wrote. He added: “It is also imperative for you to elucidate on the inconsistency in your communication dated 28/3/2019 and 28/11/2011.” He then forwarded the matter to CIID.
COSASE COMES IN
The matter came to the attention of the COSASE which was then chaired by MP Kasozi Ibrahim Biribawa. Following a series of appearances and explanations by DAPCB officials, Kasozi on November 30, 2020 wrote to Mulinde saying, “The committee therefore do hereby drop all the queries on the property above.”
With parliamentary clearance, it was thought that the matter had been put to bed. However, on March 11, 2021, Ndyomugyenyi wrote to the parliamentary Sub-committee on DAPCB directing COSASE Chairman Kasozi to rescind his letter clearing Mulinde and DAPCB. In her letter, Ndyomugyenyi stated that her directive was based on the fact that the police investigations report was yet to be released as had been directed by Bizibu in his July 30, 2020 letter to the Commandant Police Land Protection Unit.
She also noted that because of this, Mulinde had demolished the suit property much to the chagrin of the petitioners. She then also tasked COSASE to physically locate Mulinde whom she said was still elusive ever since she summoned him over the same matter.
And on March 25, 2021 Ndyomugyenyi wrote afresh to Bizibu requesting for a reply to her August 2, 2018 queries.
“On 2/8/2018 I wrote to you requesting to verify if the above-mentioned property was indeed among the properties that were compensated by the UNHCR 1972-1973. I therefore request for a reply to the above query and certified copies of all documents related to this property to aid my report,” she wrote in the letter that was received by DAPCB on March 29, 2021.
And pursuant to this letter, Bizibu on April 8, 2021, wrote to Ndyomugyenyi explaining DAPCB’s findings and chronology of this matter as follows:
That the property was first held under lease No. 36317 by Osman Macci, Abdulreman and others of P.O. Box 507 Kampala for 35 years starting January 1, 1940.
That in 1963, its proprietorship changed to Osman’s widow, Zinabai, Mohamed and Abdulreman as executors of Osman Macci’s estate under instrument No. 153960 at 11:47am.
On January 17, 1963 at 11:51am under instrument No. 153962, the proprietorship again changed to Mahamed Osman Macci and others as tenants in common in equal shares.
However, Bizibu critically noted that at the time of expropriation, the registered owners on the title were Ayoob Haji Ebrahim, Abdulshakur Haji Ebrahim and Abdullatif Haji Ebrahim as tenants in common in equal shares.
It was also curiously noted that there was a special certificate of title revealing several transfers from 1996-2003 which purported that the original title got lost.
That, however, the current owner is Mulinde Robert who was registered on the property in 2008. And that although there is no trace of the repossession process on file, there is a photocopy of a certificate (No. 1289) of repossession on file. Also, that whereas by the time of expropriation the property owners were Ayoob Haji Ebrahim, Abdulshakur Haji Ebrahim and Abdullatif Haji Ebrahim, the property was repossessed by a one Abdul Qadir and others. Bizibu also point out his request to have KDLB investigated over the shadowy change of tenure. He also noted that as he was still awaiting the police report, the divestiture committee clarified that the rightful owner of the property was Mulinde while shortly after, Kasozi wrote clearing Mulinde and henceforth stopping any queries on this property.
He also noted that the only form of compensation on file on that property was for stock and not building and the money was given to one Mrs. Rashid but not the owners of the building. This in essence means that the building was not compensated as alleged.
Kasozi Rescinds Clearance
Nevertheless, on April 29, 2021, Kasozi wrote to Bizibu a letter rescinding his earlier clearance as per Ndyomugyenyi’s directive. Insiders at DAPCB however revealed that the rescinding has caused a new row for Bizibu, with detractors now fighting to make a scandal out of the matter. Very intimate details show that already, Bizibu’s head is being forcibly dragged to the chopping chop, with a former legislator being touted as those among Bizibu’s possible replacements should the Plot 9 scandal take him.
Watch this space!!
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