The Executive Director of National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U), Mr James Saaka, on Wednesday admitted selling a 640-acre piece of land in Kibaale District to government at Shs928 million despite the same land being valued it at Shs15.2 million just under 10 years before.
Appearing before the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters, Mr Saaka admitted that he wrongly sold the 640-acre piece of land in Bugangaizi County in 2014 and applied for payment from the Uganda Land Commission (ULC).
“My father acquired that land as a donation and he transferred it to me and my siblings and we got registered on it in 1979. We tried to use the land but failed, that is why I contacted the late Bethel Mulondo who advised me to apply for the land fund,” he said.
The land probe led by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire accused Mr Saaka of selling to government land that was not under dispute to call for compensation and that it was hilly and not conducive at all for settlement or farming.
According to the report of the Chief Government Valuer, 70 percent of Saaka’s land valued at Shillings 448 million is encumbered while the remaining 30 percent valued at Shillings 480 is unencumbered.
The report further indicates that the 30 percent of the land which was free of occupants has 3 hills and a river making it unusable, a claim Mr Saaka confirmed.
Saaka said he could not answer for the valuer since he does not know the method that was used.
Commissioner Mary Oduka Ochan asked Saaka why he had to sell part of the land that could not be used to government.
Mr Saaka said that if he knew from the start that part of his land didn’t qualify for compensation from the Land Fund, he would have rejected the valuation.
Justice Bamugemereire also queried why the unusable land was valued highly. She said that the Chief Government Valuer will be summoned to explain the irregularity.
She wondered what Uganda Land Commission could be doing with this kind of land that cannot be used.
The land probe is currently investigating the abuse of the Land Fund by several government officials who received questionable payments for land compensation.
The Principal Private Secretary to President Museveni, Ms Molly Kamukama, was on Tuesday quizzed by the Commission for allegedly directing payments from the Land Fund.
She, however, said her letters were meant to address the lands authorities on concerns raised before the president and did not in any way imply directives.
Her appearance follows last week’s testimony by Lands Minister Betty Amongi in which she alleged that some of the decisions for compensation to different people using funds from the Land Fund had been prompted by directives from President Museveni.
This was after the Commission grilled her on the irregular payments to people who did not qualify for payment from the Land Fund.
Others so far quizzed by the land probe include Mr Rogers Kweezi, the Kibaale District Planner, the former Kibaale District staff surveyor, Mr Dennis Musinguzi, the ULC undersecretary Mr Albert Mugumya, former ULC accountant Martin Sentongo and accounts assistant Ms Joggies Bigirwa.
Justice Bamugemereire said that the commission will continue investigating the matter to get more evidence in regard to operations of the Land Fund.