The judgement by Justice Musa Ssekaana in the property battle between Church of Uganda and city businessman Charles Mbire has exposed how city lawyers and land fraudsters continue to claim properties whose titles were issues in error.
The latest case where the church claims ownership of land claiming that it was donated to it by the then president, Idi Amin is a true testimony that many properties especially under the custodian board have been falsely taken people who can’t account for them.
It is said that Church of Uganda lawyers were trying to cancel the land of the said property (Mbire’s company land) by an error but Justice Ssekaana rejected this and held the land title. Justice Ssekaana held that Mbire retains his land title and so was Church of Uganda keeps its land.
“I decline to issue an order of Mandamus to require the 1st respondent to forthwith cancel the certificate of title in respect of the land comprised in Leasehold Register Volume 2501 Folio 25 Plot M180 Off Akii Bua Road, Kampala and also to require the 1st respondent to enter the correct area in the applicant’s title as 0.558 hectares” reads Justice Ssekaana ruling.
Justice Ssekaana has declined to subdivide the Church of Uganda certificate of land title to create a separate plot of land for business tycoon Charles Mbire of Polilina Estates.
Church of Uganda contend that the land in question was allegedly donated to them by the then President Idi Amin Dada in 1974 and is located on Akii Bua Road, Kampala plot 21 measuring approximately 0.558 hectares.
This, Justice Ssekaana said, would not be granted given that there “were serious issues to be determined in a proper suit to determine the rights of the parties and correct the alleged errors in a suit to conclusively deal with the challenges on the land”.
Details in court indicate that the Church of Uganda entered into possession of the land but was never transferred into its name until October 18, 2006.
However, the certificate of title did not indicate the size or acreage of the land in question, which prompted the Church of Uganda in 2018 to request the Commissioner Land Registration to indicate on the certificate of title the correct size of 0.558 hectares.
“The Commissioner Land Registration, however, indicated a size of 0.301 hectares instead of 0.558 hectares stating that part of the land described as Plot M180 had been leased by the Uganda Land Commission to Polina Estates, predecessor in title of Tarsis Kabwegyere,” court documents read in part.
The Church of Uganda subsequently surveyed the property, in which it confirmed the size of the land comprising Plot 21 Akii Bua Road as 0.558 hectares and therefore, requested the Minister of Lands to intervene and enter the correct size of land.
Thus, it concluded that the acreage of Plot 21 measuring 0.558 hectares should be reinstated while plot M180 is erased from the cadastral map.
The Commissioner Land Registration conducted a public hearing, in which it was confirmed that Polina Estates’ title had been created erroneously but the Commissioner nonetheless ruled that the Church should surrender its title to enable subdivision of the property by creating a title for Polina Estates.
Court details indicate that Polina Estates filed an affidavit through its Managing Director Charles Mbire, the successor owner, who argued that Polina had acquired the property from Prof Kabwegyere, who through a government divestiture policy, had taken possession of the land in question as a sitting tenant in 1994, before selling it to Mr. Mbire in 1998.
Mbire also indicated that at no point did the government donate 0.558 hectares to the Church of Uganda but instead donated one of the two houses on the land and argued that the Church had never been in possession of the second property or the entire piece of land.