Government has rewarded Uganda people’s Defence Forces (UPDF) officers who in early February blocked the land probe team led by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire from accessing the disputed land in Mutungo. They were decorated with Rwenzori medals.
The officers include; Cpl Julius Katuriba who was the commandant on that day, Cpl Kanyikira Robert and Tumusiime Veneranda. They are attached to External Security Organisation (ESO).
Yesterday, President Yoweri Museveni awarded them for the exceptional, courage and professionalism with which these officers conducted themselves during a scuffle with the head of the Commission of Inquiry into land matters.
The soldiers are part of the 100 people in the various categories decorated during Heroes Day celebration at Kasanje town council in Wakiso District on Sunday.
According to government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, because of the meticulous way they conducted themselves, the President decided to confer on them meritorious awards. “They refused to be disarmed by people who are not their commanders. This clearly proved that the officers had a command,” he said.
“The Commander on duty that day was Sergeant Julius Katuriba, who was given the Rwenzori star, the third highest military decoration for distinguished or exemplary military service,” said Mr. Opondo
Opondo said government embraces the commission’s work however it has to seek protocol in line with the execution of its duties.
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, and her team had gone to access a 639 acres of land in Mutungo zone I, II, III and IV. The land is on Block 237 Plot 67, 48, 29 and 59 where ESO intends to build its headquarters.
The contested land was sold by Dr Muhammad Kasasa to ESO at Shs2.4b but he said he has never been paid and the money only exists on paper.
Prince Wasajja reported Dr Kasasa to the Commission accusing him of grabbing 639 acres of land from the estate of his late father King Edward Muteesa II. The land on Block 237 in Mutungo was registered in Kabaka Muteesa’s name on February 12, 1946.
The officers blocked the commission to access contested land saying they have to first call their bosses before letting them in and a move that was rejected by the commission chairperson.
This prompted Cpl Julius Katuriba, to cock his gun. He was surrounded by ant- terrorism police officers attached to the commission to snatch a loaded magazine (bullet pack) from his gun.
The Commissions of Inquiry was establishes in 2016 inquire into the effectiveness of law, policies and processes of land acquisition, land administration, land management and land registration in Uganda.