Bulambuli land of about 2,828 acres meant to resettle the Bududa mudslides survivors, however, it has been discovered that the land in question was purchased illegally.
Details also emerged showing that the rightful owners of the land were not consulted during the sale of the land and that it was never advertised.
The circumstances surrounding the sale of the land are further shrouded in mystery when the true owners of the land said they could not confirm the transaction, arguing it was undertaken by Simu Oil (U) Ltd, a company owned by Elgon county MP Inyasio Mudimi Wamakuyu in connivance with OPM officials.
“OPM was outrightly accomplice in this land deal,” Stephen Waisi of Bukiyabi village, Bumufuni parish, in Bunambutye sub-county in Bulambuli district informed this website.
Waisi says they learned of the government move to buy the 2,828 acres of land through the newspapers and that Mudimi has never engaged them and neither is he a member of their community.
“We are determined to fight for our land because nobody ever consulted us, OPM was duped. Nobody should even bring people here for settlement before we are compensated, let the government take these people elsewhere,” said Waisi.
The former RDC Bulambuli Nabende Wamoto said the purchase of the land was scandalous to the level that the procurement number OPM/SPLS/13-14/00100 was suspicious.
“And although the procurement notice was pinned on the notice board, it was removed before the mandatory 14 days at the request of MP Mudimi Womakuyu,” said Wamoto.
This was plucked off the Bulambuli district notice board due to serious objection by the real landowners and that it came out clear that OPM was outrightly accomplice in the land deal.
Wamoto wants President Museveni to intervene to investigate when and from whom did MP Mudiimi buy plot 93 [about 918 acres of land] which was abnormally traded by OPM at Shs 2, 754, 000b.
“What criteria were used by OPM to evaluate plots 93, 94 and 10? Because some plots in the same area, same topography, same market value, and less acreage were paid more than others,” added Wamoto.
He explained that on the same bid notice, for example, George and Christine Ochwo were paid Shs 3.8m per acre for plot 94 [about 270 acres], MS Simu Oil Company Ltd was paid 2.5 per acre for plot 10 [1312 acres and MP Mudiimi was paid Shs 3m per acre for plot 93.
Wamoto further wants Uganda Revenue Authority to intervene and compel the beneficiaries to pay taxes to the government and that the IGG should also intervene using the leadership to compel MP Mudini to declare his wealth especially from the illegal sale of land.
Bernard Mujasi, the LCV chairman for Mbale also questioned the motive of re-advertising the deal, two days to the closing of the bids.
He explained that the bids were closed on October 31, 2013. The first advert went out on October 18, 2013, and later, through unclear circumstances, it was re-advertised on October 28, 2013.
“And worst of all the Mt Elgon LCV chairpersons were not involved in this deal even when Shs 8b had been released to resettle their people. This makes this deal fictitious because why didn’t they involve the leaders here?,” says Mujasi.
He explained that the land in question is also public land that belongs to all Bamasaaba if the title belonged to Masaba cooperative union and that how then did the title change from a cooperative union for all Bamasaaba without an annual general meeting to an individual.
On November 22, 2013, an intelligence officer attached to OPM wrote to Christine Guwatudde assistant commissioner at OPM, raising several issues in the deal but the letter was ignored.
In the intelligence officer’s caution letter to OPM titled “Suspected anomalies in Procurement Department of Disaster Preparedness Management”, he indicated the title for the said land was a forgery and about half of the land was a swamp.
The intelligence officer proposed an independent verification team and warned OPM of future audit queries if procurement procedures were flouted. However, despite this warning, Guwatudde appointed a team of eight officers, including one Richard Masereje, who is presented as a consultant transaction advisor.
In the same police letter to OPM, the officer also reported what he called, “the fraudulent transaction” to his bosses at State House but no response was given.
Reports say that when police started investigations in the matter, they asked Centenary rural development bank to withhold payment to MP Mudiimi until issues of forgery and illegal land transaction were resolved but that the issue was handled by a divisional CID officer.
Wamoto says that the land transaction of this magnitude should have been investigated by the CID headquarters; it was left to a divisional CID officer, Daniel Batter, who on October 21, 2014, wrote to the manager of Centenary Bank, Entebbe Road branch to release the withheld funds to Simu Oil Company.
In the letter titled “Clearance of EFT payment to A/C No 3010311186 Simu Oil Company”, Batter cleared payment of the funds that had been blocked, pending the conclusion of investigations into the alleged fraud.
“This is to bring to your attention that subject to our investigations inquiries vide CPS K’LA GEF: 77/2014 into this matter, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions has directed that our case file be closed and the owner of the account [Simu Oil (U) Ltd] be allowed to freely operate and run their account… this is, therefore, to direct you to comply with the directive,” Batter wrote.