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Road Fund Boss Questioned on Land Ownership

The Commission Chairperson Lady Justice, Catherine Bamugemereire told Merian that she should be worried that she carried herself as a Landlady whereas she isn’t. Merian Ssebunya took over land in the names of Kiwe and Sajjabi Company Limited.
12 Mar 2019 20:51
Merian Ssebunya in a witness chair at the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in Wandegeya

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The Uganda Road Fund Board Chairperson, Merian Kemigisha Ssebunya posed as a landlady to take over 1479.10 acres of land in Kassanda District, the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission heard on Tuesday.   

Merian Ssebunya reportedly took over land in Kitagonerwa and Kabakonjo Village in Kalwana Sub County in the names of Kiwe and Sajjabi Company Limited. 

According to a certificate of title before the Commission, the Company bought 1479.10 acres of land in 1976 from Ibrahim Sande Kikomeko at Shillings 10.000.    

The company was owned by Merian Ssebunya's father-in-law, Isa Kiwe Ssebunya, Zakariya Sajjabi Bukenya, AbdulJamal Jiwani and Habib Jiwani. 

Between 2008 and 2009, Merian Ssebunya went to the land claiming ownership.  She evicted multiple people she accused of being squatters.  

While appearing before the Commission, Commissioner Dr. Rose Nakayi asked Merian Ssebunya if indeed she is a Landlady considering that she is not part of the company and has no document appointing her to represent the company.  

The witness said she would have to be educated on the matter.  

The Commission Chairperson Lady Justice, Catherine Bamugemereire told Merian that she should be worried that she carried herself as a Landlady whereas she isn’t.

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In her response, Merian Ssebunya, said that her father in law Isa Kiwe Ssebunya asked her to use the land to keep animals since that was his dream.    

She started operations on the land keeping cattle and goats and carried out operations as the Landlady.

Complainants who appeared before the Commission do not recognize Merian Ssebunnya as a Landlord.  They say the land belongs to the family of Zabuloni Bakyayita. 

 

They however, say she has evicted over 300 households since 2010 when she actively took over the land. They said many were evicted without compensation while a few were coarsed into compensation.   

They were asked to choose between accepting little money as compensation or vacate the land without any pay. 

Residents also accused Ssebunya of using security guards and her former farm manager, Nicholas Kabagambe to torture them and destroy their property. 

Commissioner Mary Ochan asked Sebunya to respond to the allegations made by the residents.  Ssebunya denied knowledge of any misdoings and disowned any actions carried out by Kabagambe.

However, Ochan presented her a 2013 letter in, which her husband awarded land to Kabagambe. 

The letter signed by Ssebunya and her husband Moses Kiwe Ssebunya, gave Kabagambe 200 hectares of land for "successfully" dealing with Bibanja holders and evicting over 70 people from the land.

Ssebunya then changed her statement and said that maybe the word "eviction" was wrongly used. She however couldn’t explain how it could have been used in a document she endorsed. 

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Ssebunya has also been accused by Kabagambe for taking over the land given to him. 

While appearing before the Commission, Kabagambe said Ssebunya turned against him in 2016, lodged charges of trespass against him and also took away his land.

Ssebunya said that the letter granting Kabagambe land was just meant to boost his profile to be able to deal with people on the land.  

Commissioner Robert Ssebunya dismissed her argument because the condition of temporary ownership was not part of the letter.

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The land is currently occupied by Ssebunya who holds it as a Land Lady despite lacking any legal ownership of the land. 

The directors of the land that could have legal ownership have since died. There is no documentation indicating that they passed over powers to Ssebunya. 

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