The Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters on Wednesday questioned Abbas Mawanda, a banker who sold the controversial Temangalo land to businessman Amos Nzeyi.
Mawanda appeared following summons by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the Chairperson of the Land Commission.
His appearance follows a petition filed by a Canadian-Asian family led by Nazim Moosa claiming ownership of the 366.2 acres of land at Temangalo. Nazim says the land registered as Temangalo Tea Estate Limited was owned by his parents Mohammed Hassnali Moosa who died in 1997 and Sherbanu Hassnali Moosa.
Nazim told the Land Probe earlier that his family left Uganda in 1972 when the then President Idi Amin expelled Asians. They argue that the land changed ownership under unclear circumstances until it was traced to Businessman Amos Nzeyi. But, according to Nazim, Nzeyi has snubbed several dispute resolution opportunities since 1993 in relation to the ownership.
Evidence before the Land Probe indicates that the land was first registered on February 24, 1922, in the name of Daniel Ssaku and later, transferred to Daniel Ssaku Mugwanya Kato Senior on July 17, 1944.
On October 19, 1944, a lease which was granted to Frederick George Tolbert was subsequently extended for 49 years from August 7, 1959, in favour of Temangalo Tea Estates Limited (TTEL). The lease was due for expire in 2003. On October 23 1983, a one Hajji Ahmed Keeya registered interest on the land and lodged a caveat, saying he bought the land from Daniel Mugwanya Kato at 500,000 Shillings.
The land was later transferred on June 29, 1987, and duly registered in Abbas Mawanda's name. Mawanda then caused subdivision of the land to create Plots 12 and 16 which was further subdivided to produce plots 20 and 21, all registered in his name. On October 27 1988, Plot 12 and 16 were transferred to Amos Nzeyi. But records indicate that Mawanda's lease was cancelled on October 18, 1988.
Nzeyi earlier this month told the probe team that he never addressed himself to the issue of the lease while buying the different pieces of land from a banker Abbas Mawanda between 1988 and 1993.
Present records indicate that the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) purchased 463.87 acres of private mailo land in six parcels from two sellers on March 10, 2008. The sellers included businessman Amos Nzeyi and Arma Limited, a company owned by former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.
Now, in his testimony to the Land Commission, Abbas Mawanda refuted claims that he acquired the land fraudulently.
When asked by the Land Commission Lead Counsel, Ebert Byenkya to explain his interest in the land, Mawanda said that he bought the land when he bailed out his in laws, when his father in -law Hajj Musajja Tagayibwa Sekulima died in 1983.
He explained that his in- laws approached him to buy the controversial piece of land since they had school fees problems. Mawanda is married to late Tagayibwa's daughter Mwamina Nalukenge.
Byenkya further inquired whether due diligence was made to ascertain how Tagayibwa acquired the land before Mawanda bought it off.
In his response, Mawanda said that his mother in law explained that Tagayibwa was allocated the land in 1981 through a lease that was sitting on a mailo land title of land owned by a one Kato Mugwanya.
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But Byenkya stressed that as of 29th June, 1987 when the land was transferred in the name of Abbas Mawanda, the lease was registered as an encumbrance on the mailo title.