KAMPALA, Uganda: Muhammad Allibhai told MPs in mid-September this year that he is an honest man. He had been summoned to respond to claims that he is one of the crafty people who had obtained repossession of properties left behind by Asians by false pretenses.
Allibhai is managing up to 400 of such properties, to which he’s claiming caretaker’s status. He collects over Shs50Bn per month from them. He claims he obtained Powers of Attorney from the former owners to repossess the properties he is managing. During the interface with the select committee of Parliament chaired by Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi, Allibhai cut the image of an innocent man who has never obtained any of the properties left behind by Asians by way of false pretenses.
Nevertheless, given several voices shared with us, yet with a contrary view of the Ugandan-Indian-Canadian man, we since have gone down to work, with a view of establishing the veracity of lack of what Allibhai told the honorable members of the August House. And if what we have gathered is to go by, Allibhai is not the honest man he presented himself to be.
During our investigations, we established that one of the several properties which Allibhai obtained by false pretenses is located in Lubaga along Hoima road. The property is comprised in 19 flats. It is registered as LRV 597 Folio 1 Kibuga Block 2 Plot 2 along Hoima Road.
He repossessed the property in 1994 after presenting to the Minister of Finance what he called powers of attorney saying he had been appointed to repossess and manage the flats on behalf of the owners of the company known as Perryman Building Company Limited. The company had lost the flats in 1973 during the expulsion of the Asians from Uganda.
After expulsuion, the then reigning President Idi Amin Dada verbally gave the flats to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC). UMSC would lose the flats to Allibhai in 1994. Allibhai appeared with what he claimed to be a letter from the Minister of Finance authorizing him to manage the properties. It has since emerged that Allibhai had no authority to repossess the flats since the owners never came back to Uganda nor asked to repossess them in the first place.
As it turns out, the letter from the Minister was only introducing Allibhai to UMSC to pay ground rent as a lessee and then collect rent from the occupants. It wasn’t a repossession certificate in any way. As a matter of fact, Allibhai paid rent for 15 years up to 2009 and he never paid again though he kept claiming ownership of the flats on behalf of Perryman Building Company Limited.
We now understand that the owners of the flats were actually compensated by the Idi Amin government upon the loss of the flats, the very reason they never bothered to come back to Uganda to apply for the repossession of the same. This implies the properties had long been returned to the government.
In between the time Allibhai went to the Minister of Finance to obtain permission to manage the flats and the time he obtained the nod, UMSC’s copy of the Mailo title and also the white page had been vanished from the land’s registry. It was only in 2017 when the original file was retrieved from the archives and updated on the land system and re-entry of the lease effected.
We gathered that UMSC has since written to the President through Mufti Ramathan Shabban Mubajje asking to be restored as the registered owners of the flats in question. Mubajje authored the letter on May 3rd 2019. We have the letter which carries reference UMSC/SG/05/19. The letter asks for the President’s intervention as far as repossessing the property in question is concerned.
The President has since responded positively by directing the minister of lands Betty Amongi to do the needful. Museveni’s legal aide Flora Kiconco wrote the letter on behalf of her boss. The letter dated September 3rd 2019 is referenced PO/19 and is signed off on the State House official letterhead.
Much as Mubajje is fighting to have the flats restored into UMSC’s name, we understand this is not in the spirit of returning the same to UMSC but in interest of other people out there who are waiting for UMSC to acquire the property and then take it in the interest of UMSC//. But that is a story for another day.
Over two decades ago, in a bid to attract investors, President Museveni traversed the globe for the same. In his project was to as well, lure remnants and representatives of the expelled Indians back ‘home.’ He went to Canada and UK where, most of them sought refuge and convinced them to return to Uganda. Some were convinced but many weren’t.
To the unconvinced, Museveni asked them to at least entrust those willing to return, with powers to the interest of their properties. Among the willing was Allibhai and another lady, now property mogul best known as Mamtaz. On their return, the two Canadian citizens first identified the departed Indians’ properties around the country. Some were documentary clear and others not.
Word has it that Allibhai would identify owners of a given property and communicate to them, with a request for powers of attorney. However, he would take photos of demolished structure and send them, claiming they had been smashed by the war but he could, nonetheless prevail over government to compensate them. “That’s how he acquired most of the properties to his name. He would send peanuts to the real owners and reclaim the properties,” offered our inner source.
For those whose owners were not interested and untraceable, Allibhai and Mamtaz would reportedly forge documents to reclaim them on behalf of the true owners, just like in the Lubaga property under review, whose powers of attorney were a proven total forgery before Allibhai relieved himself of it, without any further hustle.
Efforts to have Allibhai’s interview on the matter were futile as he’s reported out of the country. His lawyers Muzamir Kibedi and Ambrose Tebyasa were too, unavailable for their Client’s take on the matter. The Investigator understands that several such properties are still in Allibhai grip and efforts are being done to return them back to the custodian Board. Watch this space…
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