Bamugemereire probe gets 18 months extension

KAMPALA- President Museveni has granted an 18-month extension to the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters to enable it complete its task.

This is the second extension of the tenure of Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led commission after the initial six-months-tenure expired on November 9 2017.

On November 10, 2017, President Museveni granted a six-months extension to the commission to execute its mandate which was ending May 9, 2018.

Justice Bamugemereire said on Thursday that President Museveni extended the commission term under legal notice 26 of 2018 to renew the term of the commission.

According to Justice Bamugemereire, May 10 marked One year and one month since the commission was set up; “I would like to inform the public that the President found it fit to renew the term of the Commission of Inquiry. We have a legal notice number 6 of 2018, it has renewed the term of this commission.”

Under the legal notice, Justice Bamugemereire said that President Museveni appointed Dr Douglas Singiza as the Commission’s Secretary, replacing Ms Olive Kazaarwe, who has since been elevated to the post High Court judge.

Justice Bamugemereire said the President also appointed city lawyer Daniel Rutiba as deputy secretary and Mr Andrew Odit was appointed assistant secretary while assistant lead counsel Mr John Bosco Suuza was promoted to deputy lead counsel.

“We would like to renew the pledge of this commission to the mandate and terms of reference that His Excellency entrusted us with. We will continue to work unwaveringly in order to achieve the goals of the terms of reference and to do a good job and hopefully make a lasting change in which land is administered, acquired, managed and registered in this country,” Justice Bamugemereire said.

The Commission sitting at the National Records Centre and Archives under the Ministry of Public Service in Wandegeya near Kampala officially opened its public hearings on May 9 2017.

Appointed on December 8, 2016 and sworn in on February 19 2017, the seven member Commission’s mandate is to inquire into the offectiveness of law, policies and processes of land acquisition, land administration, land management and land registration in Uganda.

In a separate interview, the Commission’s Lead Counsel, Mr Ebert Byenkya said that the 18 months-extension effective May 4 this year was based on the overwhelming demand of the commission work.

“The life of the Commission was extended by the president to enable us finish all the work and make a report and we continue with business as usual involving public hearings and countrywide tours,” said Mr Byenkya promising to provide details of the cases at a later date.

Describing the work of the commission as demand-driven, Mr Byenkya said that they continue registering new cases, investigating them as well as hearing evidence which required them more time.

Asked about accountability queries, Mr Byenkya said that there is a well laid process by which accountability is done and that the accountabilities are audited by the office of the Auditor General that is mandated by law.

“We cannot engage in debates about accountability because there is a well-known process. The complaints are attempts to derail the commission work and they will end,” he said.

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