Home CRIME & INVESTIGATION Presidential Guard Brigade Officers, Tycoons, RDC Pinned for Grabbing Forest Reserve Land

Presidential Guard Brigade Officers, Tycoons, RDC Pinned for Grabbing Forest Reserve Land

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A commission probing land wrangles has been told that ‘connected’ officials are grabbing forest reserves and threatening to harm those standing in their way of impunity.

On Tuesday, the committee led by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire quizzed Wakiso Resident District Commissioner Ian Kyeyune and also interviewed National Forest Authority (NFA) officials.

One of these officials was John Giribo, the Sector Manager in charge of Lwamunda Zone in Mpigi district.

Giribo told the commission that large chunks of Kajjansi, Nonve, Kyewaga, Naluwaga, Kasozi and Wakayembe central forest reserves in the districts of Mpigi and Wakiso were being grabbed by officials with fake land titles.

In Nonve, according to Giribo, over 60 per cent of the 738 hectares forming the Nonve forest reserve in Kakiri, Wakiso district had been grabbed by connected officials.

For example, Giribo said that “up to 30% of Kalangaro forest reserve has been encroached on” and that “The Marine Training School and PGB [Presidential Guard Brigade] are among the encroachers.”

“When I talked to the commandant of the Marine training school, he said he only answerable to his top authorities who brought him there. I wrote to my Supervisor about the situation but it has been two years and I have never got a response,” Giribo added.

ENTER TYCOONS

Giribo further pinned property mogul Haruna Semakula of Seema Properties for grabbing Nonve land.

“Haruna Semakula has multiple titles totalling to 49 in the forest reserve in Block 226 to 228. The documents we obtained later showed that he sold these plots out to other people including Wakiso RDC Ian Kyeyune,” Giribo claimed.

Giribo also said that Wakiso RDC Ian Kyeyune had grabbed 16 hectares of Nonve, Mustafa Musisi had stolen 9.8 hectares, while Joram Mpata Owegage had hewed away 2.1 hectares.

Other encroachers, according to Giribo, include: National Medical Stores (NMS), National Agricultural Research Organization (Naro) and a Chinese construction company.

INTIMIDATION
Giribo said he was intimidated after he reported at Kakiri Police that land was being grabbed.
“At one point I was intimidated by a senior government official who called me in his office and told me ‘Even if you do what, we can’t leave the forests to trees and frogs’,” he said.

KYEYUNE SWEATS
Wakiso district RDC Ian Kyeyune told the commission that the land had been offered to him as a gift by Haruna Semakula, a relative, after he accumulated debts.

“President Museveni had been promising me a job but kept bouncing me back and forth so I got stuck with debts from a loan I had got to settle court cases after I lost elections. I spent two years without a job so Haruna gave me 40 acres as a gift in April 2014 which I sold off at Shs 164 million a month after and bailed myself out,” Kyeyune said.

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