Friday, October 30, 2020

Uganda: Bufumbira county MP Bitangaro arrested over land fraud

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Four people among them, the MP for Bufumbira County South in Kisoro District, Mr Sam Bitangaro, have been remanded to Luzira Prison over fraud in connection with sale of non-existent land in Kassanda and Gomba districts.

Mr Bitangaro was yesterday arraigned before the Magistrates Court at Makindye jointly with city lawyer John Francis Onyango Owor, Mr William Tumwine, an officer in charge of Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme at the Gender Ministry, and his wife Stella Kakuba.

They were arrested by police and State House detectives as they reported to answer their bond. Grade Two Magistrate John Robert Okipi remanded the four suspects until January 6.

“You will take plea before the Chief Magistrate on Monday because administratively, the Chief Magistrate allocates the files,” Mr Okipi held amid protest from their lawyer, Ms Annet Bada, who said they were to apply for bail for the suspects because the offences are bailable.

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Prosecution preferred charges against them of obtaining money by false pretenses, fraudulent procurement of title, fraud on sale or mortgage of property, and conspiracy to defraud in regard to sale and acquisition of land, which was meant to resettle more than 2,579 people, who were evicted from Luwunga Central Forest Reserve in Kiboga District.

The arraigning of the suspects in court follows several months of long joint investigations by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and the police.

In 2007, government contributed Shs3b while New Forest Company contributed Shs1.5b to finance the acquisition of land and construction of social amenities.

The eviction of people from Luwunga Forest was to pave way for New Forest Company, a London-based company, to replant the heavily degraded forest reserve after they signed a deal with National Forestry Authority (NFA) in 2005.

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Background

Case. Prosecution alleges that on May 21, 2014 at M/s Onyango and Company Advocates’ offices in Bunga, Makindye Division, Mr Bitangaro obtained Shs1.32b from Kiboga Twegatte Cooperative Society Ltd by falsely pretending that he had good and marketable title to land measuring 492 hectares at Bukompe, Nalutuntu Sub-county in Kassanda District.

The state further alleges that on November 5, 2014 at Mityana District, they fraudulently procured land title to Singo Block 308 plot 146, which he fraudulently acquired by causing an irregular sub-division of plot 122 that he had already sold to Kiboga Twegatte Cooperative Society Ltd.

Mr Bitangalo allegedly sold 780 hectares at Shs1.3 billion at Bukompe, Nalutuntu Sub-county in Kasanda District.

The charge sheet indicates that on May 2, 2014, Mr Onyango being a lawyer of Kiboga Twegatte Cooperative Society Ltd, issued a land inspection report falsely for Singo Block 308 Plot 122.

On May 29, 2014, Ms Kakuba and Mr Tumwine obtained Shs1.67b from Kiboga Twegatte Cooperative Society by falsely pretending that they had good property at Degeya, Kasambya in Gomba whereas not.

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