Gov't Ordered to Pay UGX 500 Million for Police Trespassing on Private Land

In 2018, Abdu Bazaale and Mahfoodh Abdalla sued government for Police trespassing on their customary land on which their family had lived for more than 70 years. In her judgement, Justice Cornelia Kakooza Sabiiti ruled that government illegally acquired the land, is trespassing and should compensate the family.


The Land Division of High Court in Kampala has ordered government to compensate a family in Pallisa District shillings 488.5 million for illegally occupying their land.

  In 2018, Abdu Bazaale and Mahfoodh Abdalla sued government for taking over their customary land where their family had lived for more than 70 years. The two got two separate plots measuring 0.914 acres in Pallisa town council from their parents.

Abdalla had 0.378 acres in Industrial area while Bazaale owned 0.536 acres in Mivule Mukaaga village. The plots are 800 meters apart.

Abdalla told court that he had been living on the land for over 30 years unchallenged and uninterrupted. Their family graveyard has about 30 people buried there.


He says he used to stay on the land but in 1990, it was given to police without consulting him. He decided to instruct for a valuation of the land and started seeking for compensation from police. But police last talked to them about compensation in 2018 and to date has done nothing. He says the police doesn't occupy the land currently but claims ownership, permits no activity there and had declined to compensate him.

On his side, Bazaale 62 years, says police took over his land in Mivule Mukaaga and has constructed a pit latrine there without his consent. He says he tried to seek compensation but failed.

In April 2014, Bazaale applied for a freehold Certificate of Title from Pallisa District Land Board and on 15th May 2014, the area land committee of Pallisa Town Council allowed his application. 

However, the District Land Board deferred Bazaale's application on grounds that in 1995, the area land committee and Physical planners under the Ministry of Lands and Urban development earmarked the land for expansion of the barracks.The land was then given to the Central Police Barracks of Pallisa Town in 2014.

The two brothers told Court that they engaged several government offices for assistance to obtain compensation but all in vain.


In her judgement, Justice Cornelia Kakooza Sabiiti says government illegally acquired the land, is trespassing and should compensate the family. 


Justice Kakooza ruled that the two brothers are deemed to be Bonafide Occupants of the land because they have occupied it for more than 50 years before the coming in force of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and such occupancy and all users rights are vested in them and are protected by the law.

The justice ruled that the two brothers are the rightful owners of the land because they inherited it from bonafide occupants, their lineal grandparents and they have lived on it from when they were born to present day.

"The plaintiffs’ right to fully utilize their land has been severely frustrated by the claim or intention from the Uganda Police to expand into their land and as such the defendant’s agents trespassed on the plaintiffs' land" ruled the justice.

The justice further ruled that government unlawfully acquired that land owned by the two brothers. She says that since the land was privately owned, government would only have taken it over through proper lawful channels.

According to article 26 (2) of the 1995 Constitution, government can only acquire private land upon prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation prior to taking possession.

She ordered government to compensate the family with shillings 292.5 million for the land at Muvule Mukaaga, Shillings 196 million for the land in Industrial Area and shillings 30 million in general damages.

  She further ordered that compensation be paid at an annual interest rate of 15 percent starting from March 2017 when Abdalla and Bazaale stopped using the land to-date of full payment and 5 percent annual interest rate on general damages from day of the judgment to when the payment is made fully.