Kampala. Businessman Amos Nzeyi has been grilled in connection with acquisition of the 366-acre Temangalo land he sold to National Social Security Fund (NSSF) under unclear circumstances.
A Canadian-based family has since petitioned the land probe accusing Mr Nzeyi of land grabbing.
It is alleged that Mr Nzeyi fraudulently acquired and occupied the disputed land on Block 296 Plot 20 in Busiro in 1993 while it was registered in the names of M/s Temangalo Tea Estate, a company owned by the family of Muhammad Hassanali Moosa before they were expelled by Idi Amin’s regime.
Last week, Mr Nazim Moosa, a retired banker based in Vancouver, Canada presented an original lease title saying his parents acquired the tea estate from deceased Daniel Mugwanya Kato and held it until their expulsion in 1972.
“…my parents have proprietary interests because I have the original lease title for the tea estate since 1944. But our search through our former lawyer, Peter Mulira, in 1993 shows that Mr Nzeyi was occupying our land. We wrote to him but he did not show up,” testified Mr Moosa, one of the three children of the family.
Mr Moosa said upon visiting the land in 1993, part of it was bushy with some structures, a dairy farm and a watershed and that when they contacted the family of Mugwanya that leased the land to their parents, they denied knowledge of Mr Nzeyi’s claim to the property.
The new claim over ownership of the Temangalo land resurrects after a decade following an investigation by Parliament over its controversial sale to NSSF at Shs11 billion.
Appearing before the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire–led Commission, Mr Nzeyi was tasked to explain when and how he acquired the disputed land, how he signed a joint mutation form for sub-division of the land and ongoing court case and how he transferred it to NSSF.
Mr Nzeyi said he took interest in the disputed land in 1988 with a view of establishing a dairy farm but acquired it in phases from former managing director of Uganda Development Bank, Mr Abbas Mawanda, who he knew in 1975.
About the lease
Asked about the running lease at the time of him acquiring land, Mr Nzeyi testified that any questions can best be answered by Mr Mawanda and his former lawyers of M/s Sebalu and Lule whom he chose due to their reputation and knowledge about land in Buganda.
“All I was interested in was to buy that beautiful land, pay for it and hand over transfers to the lawyers who were the professionals,” he testified.
He, however, admitted that at the time of acquisition of the disputed land, there was tea but it had grown wild. He denied knowledge of the 1993 court case against him.
Mr Nzeyi said he is only aware of the 2016 case where mediation proceedings failed because he never attended.
He added that he sold the land to NSSF in 2008 after 15 years without knowledge of any dispute.
“In this matter, I am an innocent man because surely the only way we know, we investors, about buying land is engaging and hiring lawyers to carryout due diligence.
After findings, that is when you go to the bank and say release the money and that is what exactly translated in this transaction,” he said.
Mr Nzeyi who was responding to accusations also apologised to the Commission for failing to appear on the day he was summoned.
Sitting at the National Records and Archives Centre in Kampala, the Commission is inquiring into the law, processes and procedures in land acquisition, land administration, and management in the country.