YOU HAVE NO POWERS: Solicitor General warns Custodian Board over Asian properties already allocated

Mr George William Bizibu, executive secretary of the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board appearing before COSASE (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA — The Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) officials are on the spot again — with the Solicitor General warning Executive Secretary George Bizibu and Finance Minister Matia Kasaija against interfering in the matters regarding properties already allocated.

In letter seen by this website, the Solicitor General citing section 15 of the Expropriated Properties Act Cap.87 says the board and Finance Minister have no powers to cancel a certificate of repossession.

“Reference is made to your letter no CB2672 dated 26 February 2021 addressed to the LC1 Chairperson, Martin Road (copy attached) on the captioned subject which was brought to the attention of the Hon. Attorney General on 16, April 2021 in his capacity as principal legal advisor of the government by M/s Sharma Import and Export (U) Limited, the registered owners of the property captioned. The letter requires the occupants/registered owners of the property to vacate it to enable the Minister for Finance to deal in the property”

“The Hon. Attorney General has advised as follows: That he has previously advised on such matters vide his letter to the Hon Minister of Finance , Planning and Economic Development ref.ADM31/197/01 dated 15 August. That as per the said letter of August 2019, the minister responsible for Finance (or Departed Asians Property Custodian Board) “(“The Board”) has no powers to cancel a certificate of repossession previously issued by him or her (See Mohan Kiwanuka vs Asha Chand SCCA No14 of 2002). That powers is reserved for the High Court of Uganda under section 15 of the Expropriated Properties Act Cap.87. It is also the position of the law that a certificate (of title) is conclusive proof of title to land, unless it has been proved that the title was procured through fraud”.

Available records show, the Attorney General already guided on the contested properties, indicating that it had been repossessed by its pre 1972 owners on the authority of a certificate issued by the minister.

“That the purported claim of ownership or authority over the property by the board, as has been the case with respect to other long possessed properties in the recent past, is downright illegal, and is unnecessarily exposing his office and the government at large to costly litigation. That this office therefore, will disassociate itself from illegal action being contrived by the board in this particular matter and urges the board to desist from further interfering with registered owner’s constitutionally protected right to the property in question” reads the Solicitor General’s letter of June 15, 2021.

DAPCB had on February 26, 2021 wrote to the LC1 Chairperson Martin Road indicating that the board was verifying the said property in his area and the purpose of writing to him was to provide vacant possession of the property.

“DAPCB is in the process of verifying and winding up all its activities on Expropriated Properties of which this property is among the properties to be verified. Further the occupants are illegally occupying this property without any colour of authority to which they are required to pay rent arrears since 1972 to date. Therefore, they should provide vacant possession to enable the Minister of Finance deal in the property. The purpose of this letter is to request the occupants to provide vacant possession of Plot 14c Martin Road Kampala not later than 60 days from receipt of this letter” reads a letter from Hirome Sabbehe Mayanja, Chairman of Divestiture committee of DAPCB.

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