KAMPALA, Uganda: Last night, we broke a story where the head of the land division of the High Court, Justice Andrew Bashaija controversially defied the President and went ahead to handover a property in the leafy Upper Nakasero to property magnate Sudhir Ruparelia, whose only claim to it, was a void Title obtained from Nasser Road.
Museveni had directed the land registry to restore the property to Sadrudin Gulamhussein upon learning that the Title possessed by Sudhir, claiming he owns plot 8 Nakasero land, was shrewdly created in the alleys along the forgery hub street.
Trouble for Sudhir started when Gulamhussein sold the property only to discover that some crafty fellows had gone behind him and forged a parallel Title to the property. This is, but the preamble. We now move to the focus of the story which is about revealing why Sudhir set out to acquire the same by hook or crook.
First things first. Following our , some of our treasured readers got back to us asking why an experienced legal mind like William Byaruhanga ended up paying a lot of money for the property without taking the trouble to check with the land office, which would have helped him to ascertain the fact that what he was paying for was actually encumbered by the presence of Meera Investments Limited (MIL) on the Title!
For starters, the immediate outgoing Attorney General, Byaruhanga joined hands with business partner Charlie Lubega to buy the property under their property development firm of Pine Investments Limited (PIL). They paid a total of USD1.5m. But on going through the process of transferring the property, they discovered that Sudhir had somehow transferred what they wanted to transfer to PIL.
To answer the really useful question by our readers, we dug deeper and here comes with the chronology leading to how the property changed into Sudhir’s MIL. Sometime in the past, the dfcu bank had a wing which was dealing in the business of leasing. Under this business, the bank would, for instance, purchase buses and lease them out to any person or entity desiring of using them to make money.
The customer or entity would then use the proceeds to clear the debt instalments together with the agreed interest. The bank would upon the customer extinguishing the debt, let him or her keep the vehicles for good and continue to make the money.
After good years in the leasing business, dfcu decided to let go of this particular trade. Meanwhile, dfcu had another shareholder. This shareholder held, by the way, the biggest stake in the bank. This one was a company. Its name is to date, the Commonwealth Development Company (CDC), a decent firm with even the Queen of England as one of the shareholders.
Going forward, CDC owned what is now called the Rwenzori House as well as Rwenzori Courts. The shareholders upon agreeing on selling out, they invited bidders. Sudhir bided, so did William Byaruhanga together with Charlie Lubega. The judiciary put in a bid too.
The Judiciary saw the properties as a strategic place suitable for extension to erecting a home for the courts of law right from the magistrates up to the Supreme Court. They saw the sites as strategic because it is adjacent to the Kampala High Court with just a road between them. But most important, the place is secure and serene given the fact that it is located just within the environs of the State House.
When the results of the evaluation were returned, Sudhir emerged the highest bidder, beating the rest of the contenders to the sites being sold. Byaruhanga and Lubega afforded the second place while the judiciary came at the tail end of the race.
CDC being a reputable firm, sat back and mulled over the results. Much as the judiciary had pulled the least scores at the bid evaluation, the people of CDC thought them to be a much better bidder among the trio. But because the judiciary couldn’t pay in time on account of the red tape involved in the government procurement process, they lost out.
Even then, CDC was uncomfortable doing business with Sudhir. Insiders tell us how CDC didn’t want to deal with Sudhir’s person because he and Meera were reportedly too tainted images for an organization of CDC repute whose biggest shareholder, among others, is the Queen herself.
And just like that, fate ended up helping Byaruhanga and Lubega enter from the back door to run away with the coveted prize. But as Byaruhanga and Lubega laughed, Sudhir was crying foul. The seed of the cold war that would generate a few years or months had been planted. It was only a matter of time for the seed to germinate and prosper into fruition!
Now that you, the readers are armed with this info, we go straight to the battle at Plot 8 Nakasero, premised just a step away from Rwenzori Courts. Having lost the bid above, the relentless fighter in Sudhir was now a wounded lion. Plot 8 Nakasero proved such an opportune battle ground for Sudhir to settle scores with Byaruhanga and Lubega. The land is just immediately after the two properties which PINE snapped right from the jaws of Sudhir.
Probably seeking to extract revenge, Sudhir sent out his sidekick, A.R Kalani to check out the availability of the plot. Kalani did as instructed. He approached the owner. Unfortunately, Gulamhussein wasn’t selling, for he was in advance stages of selling out the same to PINE who, had actually paying the USD1.5M in instalments. Sudhir looks blue upon receiving the bad message. He thanks Kalani before telling him to leave.
At this time, the factory in the hare’s brain reported to work. This is how a one Abdu Matovu emerged, or was made to emerge from the blue to ‘transfer’ the property into his names. Upon ‘acquiring’ the same, Matovu quickly ‘sells’ it to Davis Kakwenzire. Matovu ‘conveniently’ disappears thereafter. Only Kakwenzire, Sudhir and heavens know where he is now!
On ‘acquiring’ the property, Kakwenzire, the one who gained infamy after being arrested for land grabbing on orders of the president, mortgages the same with Crane Bank, the one owned by Sudhir at the time. Shortly thereafter, he sells and transfers the property to Sudhir. And the questionable transactions go on and on.
As the mess went on, innocent Byaruhanga and Lubega were completing the payment whereupon, they flew to London to conclude the transaction with the owner who went ahead to hand them the original Title plus documents recommending them to the land registry as the new owners of the property.
Unknown to the Byaruhangas, someone was monitoring whatever they were doing. That person was actually moving fast to negate whatever they are expending money and energy to achieve. This is why upon showing up at the land registry, after some months, they were told the same had already been transferred into the names of Sudhir’s Meera Investments.
But how? Byaruhanga had appeared complete with the original Title from Gulamhussein and the recommendation introducing them as the new owners. Interestingly, the mother title had gone missing from the land registry. Confident of no wrong, the registrar of Titles, Karibwende proceeded to create a substitute Title to replace the one missing.
Weeks after, and when Karibwende was putting the final touches on the substitute Title, the head of the strong room at the time, Mrs Kasirye surprisingly emerged with the ‘missing’ file. And just like that, it resurfaced with the name of Meera fully engraved on it!
Karibwende insisted Sudhir must produce the Title in his possession. The property magnate sniggered. He tells his lawyer, Alex Rezida to write to Karibwende telling him to stop poking his nose in matters beyond his office. Rezida tells Karibwende to tell whoever is complaining about the forgery surrounding his client’s Title to proceed to the courts of law.
This is when Gulamhussein involves the police force. Without help forthcoming from the police, Gulamhussein turns to the presidency. Museveni orders for replacement of Meera with the names of Gulamhussein. Even then, Sudhir refuses to hand over his Title for correction. The Commissioner did according to the executive orders. It’s at this juncture that Sudhir trotted to court. We already reported how Justice Bashaija ruled in his favor. The case is now before Court of Appeal.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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