Anglican Church leader Ntagali snubs court appearance in land wrangle

Anglican Church leader Ntagali snubs court appearance in land wrangle
Eazzy Banking

The Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali has failed to appear in Court on with his lawyers for mediation over breach of contract, Isaac Baligema reports.

The Church’s Board of Trustees chaired by the Archbishop was recently dragged to Commercial Division of Court over breach of contract, by a private company Land Coin Limited.

The Church in 2015 contracted the company to conduct a comprehensive study with a view of verifying the extent of the Church’s interest in the land at Entebbe which is occupied by Government.

The land in question is comprised on FRV 56 Folio 18 and situated along Sebuggwawo Drive, at Entebbe International Airport, Entebbe Municipality; it is occupied by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Headquarters, the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Camp Site and the Veterinary Department – Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries measuring around 15 acres.

Land Coin’s Director, Jonathan Tibisaasa in July 2015 wrote to the Archbishop informing him that his company would compel the Government to pay for the land since it has Government installations that cannot easily be relocated.

“…..The work will be done on a Commission basis, viz either the 10% if the investigation is up to submission of a report; or 15% if work is done up to recovery of land or compensation for it, as the case may be….,” reads part of Tibisaasa’s letter to the Archbishop dated July 6, 2015.

In his response, the Archbishop on behalf of the registered Trustees of the Church of Uganda expressed interest in the proposal from Tibisaasa and appointed the Company to act as Church of Uganda agents and authorized it to carry out the necessary investigations with a ‘view to ascertaining the nature and extent of the Church’s interest in the land in question’. The Archbishop’s letter stated that; “….Your suggestion regarding a commission is acceptable to the Trustees…,” the letter is dated July 7, 2015.

The Church through the registered Trustees went ahead to cement its relationship with the company by granting it special powers of attorney on October 21, 2015.

Government compensates Church

The President agreed to compensate the Church in a meeting held at State House Nakasero in April 2016 and directed the Minister of Finance (Mr. Matia Kasaija) and his Permanent Secretary (Mr. Keith Muhakanizi) to engage relevant Government verify the Church’s claims.

The Chief Government Valuer produced a report and valued the land at Uganda Shillings Forty Eight Billion Nine Hundred Eighty Four Million Four Hundred Twelve Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty Two (UGX48, 984, 412, 952); of which UGX25, 905, 000, 000 was value for the land, UGX7, 771, 500, 000 was Disturbance Allowance and UGX15, 307, 912, 952 was for Mesne profits.

The company was therefore entitled to over sh7.3b to cover its 15% commission as per the agreement.

According to sources from Uganda Land Commission, the Church has so far received around sh31b.

Land Coin dragged the Church to Court because the Archbishop allegedly wanted the company to get just 10% on the value of land (around sh10b) but not the entire compensation (over sh48b)

 

Museveni angry

The President was visibly angry during the Martyrs Day celebrations at the Anglican Shrine at Namugongo over reports of auctioning the Church House, one of the biggest investments by the Church of Uganda.

“I read in the newspapers that you are on tenterhooks, that the Church House could be taken. Worry not, it won’t happen as long as I am still here. We started this job with the Archbishop (Luke Orombi), there is no way this house can be taken by business people. Your brothers, the Catholics; we put about sh90b at the shrine. I want to thank the Church of Uganda for the work you have done on the Church House. We shall sort all the other issues,” he asserted.

However, the issue of auctioning the Church House was spearheaded by the project financiers, Equity Bank early last year and not Land Coin; Daily understands that the Church and the have since reached an agreement on financed the loan.

Sources from State House indicate that the President met with the representatives from Church of Uganda and directed them to compel the company to withdraw the matter from court so that it can be sorted amicably outside court.

The Church’s senior lawyers from Sebalu and Lule Advocates did not turn up but sent a junior lawyer to ask Court to adjourn the matter because the Archbishop was allegedly not in position to attend in person; the mediation was adjourned to June 27 at 11am.

The company is represented by Tumusiime, Kabega and Company advocates.

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