The government is finalizing procedures that will eventually lead to the compulsory acquisition of land that once hosted St Peter’s Church of Uganda, Ndeeba.
The Church in question was demolished on August 9 after an ownership dispute spanning more than 40 years. Available documentation indicates that the act was a result of a court decision over a property wrangle between the Church of Uganda and the joint administrators of the estate of the late Evelyn Nachwa, a Buganda Kingdom Princess.
The demolition followed a court ruling which indicated that the land had been fraudulently registered in the names of Bishop Danistan Nsubuga, Rev. Yuda Kitaka, and Esau Kizito, thus ordering the church to vacate. In the aftermath of the demolition, President Yoweri Museveni promised that his government would rebuild the Church.
This was followed by a notice which was put into the Uganda gazette on August 28 indicating that the Minister of Lands has already issued a statutory instrument regarding the piece of land situated in Kibuga block 7 plot 39.
“The parcel of land described in part I of the schedule to the instrument is declared to be land required by the government in the interest of public order; being the reconstruction of St Peter’s Church, Ndeeba,” the instrument reads.
When the minister is satisfied that any land is required by the government for a public purpose, section 3 of the Land Acquisition Act gives him or her powers to compulsorily take over the land. However, the law also requires that before the acquisition, the government should notify its intention to take possession of the land and that claims to compensation for all interested parted.
If this process is followed, the government will have the said land valued to set the amount of money that can be compensated to the rightful owner before the land is eventually taken over.
Meanwhile, the proposed acquisition has raised questions in the matter of the demolition of the Church Structure, which is currently before Makindye Magistrate Court. At least 22 people including city businessman Dodoviko Mwanje and several senior police officers are jointly charged for theft, disobedience of lawful orders, connivance to commit a felony, and malicious damage.
But their lawyer Max Mutabingwa says that the government’s act of issuing an instrument shows that government is aware that the land belongs to someone yet there is a court ruling on the lawful owner of the land. Mutabingwa asked the court to dismiss the matter and noted that it is awkward to find that the state is accusing a group of people on charges that stem from one’s desire to develop his privately owned property.
Makindye Chief Magistrate Prossy Katushabe has already advised the aggrieved parties on the government’s move to acquire the land that they free to lodge their complaints to the Directorate of Public Prosecution.