KAMPALA, Uganda: The President, Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni had personally helped the Asian, Sadrudin Gulamhussein to regain his property which tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia had cheekily obtained. But in his wisdom Justice Andrew Bashaija reversed the presidential directives and restored the asset to Sudhir.
The Judge contended that much as the first person to transfer the land into his names, Abdu Matovu forged the signature of the commissioner of Land Registry, at the time Counsel Peter Walubiri, the same cannot be used against Sudhir. This posture, even when Court proceedings had it that the title in question was a product of Nasser Road!
The Judge argued that because Sudhir reportedly didn’t know about the forgery at the time he bought the property, nor colluded with Matovu, he is treated as a bonafide purchaser for value without knowledge of the forgery which took place before he bought the land. This stance, even when Sudhir had failed to present the void Title, claiming it was misplaced by his lawyers! The Judge disregarded and even avoided a mention of Sadrudin’s original Title which had been presented before Court!
Sadrudin had invoked the office of the President after he had been shocked to learn his property, which he had actually sold off to a third party, had changed hands three times already. He had embarked on the process of transferring the land on Plot 8 Nakasero, into the names of the purchaser when he discovered the names of Meera Investments Limited (MIL) present and his, which were registered long ago in 1962, missing!
A real estate developer, Pine Investments Limited owned by the immediate outgoing Attorney General, William Byaruhanga and former break-dancer cum the biggest entertainment industry guru, Charlie Lubega, is the one which had legitimately bought the land from Sadrudin. Alarmed because he seem to have sold air at a cost of over USD1.5M which he was now supposed to refund, Sadrudin Gulamhussein involved police.
But Sudhir being the egoistic Sudhir he is, he called upon his big pals who told him to ignore Gulamhussein and continue in possession of the property. Defeated, Sadrudin sent in a passionate plea to the President. The head of State was alarmed by what he had been told and by what he later read himself.
The son of Kaguta’s anger boiled over. He swore Sudhir was only going to expropriate the property over his dead body. The President asked Amelia Kyambadde, his Principal Private Secretary then, to put him through to the then Inspector General of Police, Gen. Edward Kale Kayihura. Once Kayihura picked the call, Museveni demanded to know why he (Kayihura) was handling Sudhir with soft gloves.
He directed Kayihura to leave whatever he was doing, move with light speed and force Sudhir out of Sadrudin’s property. “You risk facing charges of contempt of my orders if at all you refuse to carry out my instructions,” the President reportedly addressed Kayihura. And as would be expected in circumstances as these, Kayihura followed the orders of his Commander-in-Chief to the letter.
The Police Chief sent in his boys who rounded up and handcuffed Sudhir’s private guards before evicting them. The President then instructed the Lands Office to transfer the property back into the names of Gulamhussein. The Commissioner of Lands at the time, Karibwende issued the due notice to Sudhir asking him to surrender whatever Title he had, for correction. A relentless fighter and lover of material things, Sudhir instructed his lawyers of Nangwala, Rezida and Company Advocates to fight back by telling Karibwende how forgery was beyond the realm of his office. Karibwende then wrote to Gulamhussein to communicate his inability to handle the matter.
He advised the aggrieved Asian to try the courts of law instead. Museveni learned of Karibwende’s insolence. But Karibwende was just six months away into retirement. He did what he could and handed the matter over to the new Commissioner, Sarah Basangwa Kulata to revisit the same. She rewrote to Sudhir asking him to quickly send in the title in his possession.
But Sudhir, fearing for the worst since his Title had been found to have been improvised from Nasser Road, the country’s forgery hub, didn’t budge. Kulata didn’t waste more time. She rectified the record that had been so tainted by restoring Sadrudin’s names on the white page Title. The fact that Sudhir had run to Court and obtained an order stopping the deletion of his name from the white page, didn’t help at all. The no-nonsense Kulata all the same deleted his name.
Gulamhussein obtained registration of the land in 1962. Just like it happened to other Asians who were living, working and trading in Uganda, he lost the property when the President of the day, Idi Amin Dada woke up from slumber and directed Asians to pack up and leave Uganda in three months. It so happened that in June 2016, a one Abdu Matovu managed to have the land holding the property registered in his names.
Matovu has since gone underground. His disappearance is of course understandable though suspicious in the circumstances of this saga. If he had remained in circulation, he would have been obviously quizzed about how and from who he bought the building and the source of the money he used to purchase the same. He disappeared because as it’s well-known by whoever bothers to, he was a proxy.
Above all, Matovu would be rotting in jail after it emerged that he actually forged the signature of the former Commissioner of Lands while he went about transferring the property into his names. Shortly after registering himself on the Title, Matovu conveniently ‘lost interest in the property’ and sold it out to a one Davis Kakwenzire. Kakwenzire purportedly paid USD550, 000 to ‘acquire’ the property. Never mind that his name doesn’t feature among Ugandans who are moneyed but land grabbers.
Well, to jog your mind back, Kakwenzire is the guy the President ordered to be arrested over land grabbing a few years back. The Head of State had paid a visit to Nateete in Lubaga division to listen to tales of land grabbing when, the locals mentioned Kakwenzire who, the President right away directed for his swift arrest. He was accordingly summarily handcuffed.
Meanwhile, upon registering himself on the Title, Kakwenzire had moved fast and used the same to obtain a loan from Crane Bank… You guessed right, Crane Bank belonged to Sudhir who the President ruled later, to have craftily obtained the land belonging to Sadrudin. A few days after obtaining the loan, Kakwenzire developed a feeling that he no longer wanted the high value land, which he had, by the way, ‘acquired’ barely three months back.
He ‘looked for brokers’ to help find him a buyer. He found one. His name is Godfrey Kirumira. The choice isn’t surprising to the initiated. Kirumira has been Sudhir’s ‘errand boy’ for a long time as far as ‘buying’ property is concerned. Meetings ensued. They were held at Sudhir’s Munnyonnyo Resort Hotel. City lawyer, Wycliffe Birungi proceeded to the Land Office on the alleged assignment of carrying out the search of the register.
Done with the assignment, Birungi turned to his paymaster to report how he had not found any kind of encumbrance. But more exactly, any names of Sadrudin Gulamhussein on the Title. This still baffles those in the know because to date, Kulata’s stance still stands and Glamhussein’s names still appear in the registry. But this is a story for another day. Nevertheless, Sudhir then reached for his purse and paid the buyer-out at a fee totaling to USD850, 000.
Back to Court records, after securing the judgment in his favor, Sudhir started on the journey to file for a Special Title from Lands, claiming his (the void one) had completely gone missing for good. In the meantime, Sadrudin is not taking it lying down. He had secured a court order for maintenance of the status quo until his appeal is out of the way. Watch this space.
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