Following this super investigative website’s expose of a deal where a big wig in President Yoweri Museveni’s backyard had been scheming to sell a wetland to the national electoral agency, we can report the same has fallen flat. But hung in there, to this, we shall revert, as we go on. Lets first give the background to this story. The land which was being vended for the electoral commission to build a permanent home, is currently known as former Gem International School.
A company known as Nationwide Properties had been licensed by the country’s environment watchdog, to use the land to construct a waste treatment plant. And, to use the same as well, to carry out eco-tourism business plus other leisure related activities. Yet, the same would somehow end up in the hands of the proprietor of Property Services, Pradip Karia. Karia would then breach the license, by erecting instead, a storied school on the land. This, as opposed to the earlier cleared sewerage treatment plant project.
When Karia, and his enabler in President Museveni’s backyard, had now got wind of the Electoral Commission’s land deal, they would put in a bid to dispose of the wetland. They bidded for the deal using Property Services as the vendor. Yet, the Title holding the land itself is, evidently, at the same time, registered in the names of Pradip Karia, Minnex Nadil Karia, Kinnal Pradip Karia, Alnasir Gulamhussein and Nadir Virani.
And as we were still at, then, there emerged ownership issues over the same land. A man referred to as Isma Zuma Kisseka Mawanda would now spring up to claim ownership of the same. Mawanda was saying he had inherited the land in issue from his grandfather, Kisseka Musajjatadiba. Save that while he was away in Zambia for twenty years, then, he claims, Karia now conspired with KCCA, to alter the same piece of land to himself. Not merely that. Mawanda went ahead and filed a formal complaint with the director of ISO, Charles Oluka. He further caveated the land, to lock out anybody from trespassing on the same, nor transacting any further business on it.
Going back to the breach of the user purpose license, Karia would escape reproach by the authorities, ostensibly because, he does business with the ruling NRM party for which he prints T-shirts and other campaign materials. The anti-graft public officer, Betty Olive Namisango Kamya herself, had initially credibly invalidated the deal, citing a NEMA report which had, in turn, declared the land to be a strategic wetland. But the same public officer would change her position ostensibly under pressure now, to recommend to the President to clear the bid. She would definitely so, via a letter dated April 27,2022. To sweet-talk the President into buying into her suspicious change of heart, Kamya would inform her master, how the electoral body had spent a whole eight years looking for land to build it’s own home. So, she was proposing, the electoral body shouldn’t waste any more time, but just go ahead and buy the same land.
Nevermind that her own officers had diligently paid a visit to the land in issue previously, and duly confirmed the same to be a wetland! The government’s chief valuer had himself initially valued the land to go at a total of UGX111bn at the open market. But smelling loss of the deal, the vendors would desperately drop the asking price from Ush111Bn to now Ush75bn.The President had now written and recommended that an alternative piece of dry land located in Kakajjo-Bweyogerere be purchased to spare the other Luzira wetland from being degraded.
Museveni’s intelligence handlers had also informed him that the wetland which was being forced on the electoral commision to take, had no escape route to either the sea nor the land. The same was hence, as per the President’s intelligence handlers, most likely to compromise the security of such a sensitive body as the electoral commision. The land in Bweyogerere belongs to Dr Godfrey Lule Sserunkuma, a celebrated Ugandan physician who, the President has been counting on for long years now, to offer highly specialized treatement to a number of officials of his government in Nairobi. Lule’s land is fairly large apart from holding a storied building which he intends to use to house a specialized health facility. Besides, the land is serene and secure seeing that it is in the vicinity of Uganda Bureau of Statistics and other high-end environs aside from being easily accessible.
The President is now understood to have finally directed that the electoral body moves from it’s current location at Jinja Road, to Seventh Street, Industrial Area in Kampala. This development, because he claimed, both Luzira and Bweyogerere land owners are his known friends. Where the electoral agency is supposed to be moving, is the place which has been occupied by the National Housing Corporation. The agency itself will now be moving to Crested Towers to create space for the new tenants. Meantime, we understand, the vendors of the wetland, had cut the asking price of the same now from UGX75bn to UGX60bn,still desperately looking to quickly get rid of the same, and, to avoid future repercussions for having breached the user license. The President, much as he had recommended the land for his friend Dr Lule to be purchased by the electoral agency, he has finally decided to let go of it, to avoid being accused of conflict of interest. The electoral agency’s publicist, Paul Bukenya says all they want is to move from the flood-prone current location to any other place so long as it is secure. This would presuppose that the electoral agency has not been involved in the back and forth manouvers concerning the purchase or not of the wetland. For the record, the road agency, Unra, is supposed to use the land hosting the electoral agency currently, to build a flyover.
- 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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