Witnesses that have appeared before the ongoing commission of inquiry into land matters have reportedly been threatened by some individuals with links to state security agencies.
This was revealed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the chairperson of the commission, investigating a range of issues in Uganda’s land sector. The commission was tasked to inquire into the effectiveness of the land law, the process of land acquisition, land administration, management and land registration.
However, as the Commission proceeds with its work, questions linger on whether it will be able to face untouchables involved in dubious land deals in the regions of Bunyoro, Buganda and Acholi. Indeed its work could be hindered by reports of intimidation against witnesses in its public hearings.
So far six people have been arrested for allegedly intimidating a witness, Bukanzi Milton at the Commission’s public hearing on May 31. The suspects, who were charged with threatening violence, include Ssebugwanyi George William, Sseruyange Derrick, Magala Joseph, Mutebi Brian Lunninze, Kizito Muhamad and Lutaaya Stephen. They were remanded to Kigo prison.
The Commission faced almost a similar incident during its public hearing in Luweero when one landlord identified as Swaibu Yiga Mukasa allegedly used police and other state security agencies to intimidate witnesses. Former State Minister for Lands, Aida Nantaba had cautioned earlier, that the Commission is likely to face difficulty in dealing with government officials and senior security personnel involved in land grabbing.
But the commission Chairperson Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has warned whoever intends to use state security agencies to intimidate her, commission members and witnesses to dare.
One of the Commissioners, Robert Ssebunya while answering questions raised by journalists said they were not aware of the untouchables as he vowed to ensure that the commission will come out with a report that will benefit all Ugandans.
Other Member of the Commission include, George Bagonza, Mary Odupa Ochan, Rose Nakayi, Fredrick Ruhindi and Joyce Habasa.