How Kenyan security expert allegedly ‘grabbed’ land in Uganda
A Kenyan security expert who controversially became one of the most powerful people in Uganda’s police force is facing charges of land grabbing and forceful evictions in Luweero district on the outskirts of Kampala.
Ambrose Wekesa Murunga, who also served as a technical advisor to Inspector General of Ugandan police Gen Kale Kayihura, was arrested and detained by the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in Uganda last week in connection with the alleged fraudulent land dealings.
He has since been released on a police bond pending further hearings.
Mr Murunga, who records show is a Kenyan citizen born in Trans Nzoia County, is accused of falsifying his nationality to acquire more than 400 acres of land under Mailo tenure (a land ownership system in Uganda) in Gayaza Village, Butuntumula sub-county in Luwero District, in contravention of the Constitution and the Land Act.
Evidence before the commission headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire alleges that Mr Murunga forged his birth certificate, dodged paying government taxes, and holds large tracts of land in the neighbouring country despite being a foreigner with no valid work permit.
He is further accused of being in possession of a land title which was fraudulently procured in connivance with the land registrars at Bukalasa land registration office in Luweero district.
Mr Murunga is also accused of criminalising, arresting and detaining residents he found on the land with a view to evicting them from the land they occupied for decades.
“Is it not true that you were going to use your office and you were going to use all means to ensure that people leave that land and you get vacant possession?
“Is not true that you actually abused the office because you must have been working for somebody that you have not told us and because of the nature of your evidence you will have to tell us…?” Mr Murunga was quizzed by Justice Bamugemereire who later handed him over to investigators for further grilling.
“You actually abused your office, used our police officers to go and terrorise those citizens who had been lawfully, quietly and peacefully living on their land.
“We would like to know the land officers you were working with and the big people you are working for or helping you to do that,” the judge declared.
The evidence shows that Mr Murunga falsified his particulars to acquire interests on land measuring more than 430 acres before subjecting more than 200 occupants to arrests and detention in police custody.
Witnesses told the commission that the land office at Bukalasa in Luwero district offered Mr Murunga another 120 acres of land in the same area without certified documents which led to untold suffering of people.
EXPIRED WORK PERMIT
Mr Murunga, a former Nation columnist, holds a Kenyan passport but has allegedly been living in Uganda on an expired work permit.
He is accused of abuse of office for working in cahoots with top Ugandan government officials to traumatise hundreds of people in Luweero whom he allegedly criminalised, arrested and detained using police officers in the area.
Appearing before the commission early this month, Mr Murunga said there was a conflict with the people he found occupying the land due to fraudulent transfers perpetrated by the seller, Ms Rose Nalutaaya, who is now deceased.
It is alleged that Ms Nalutaaya sold to Mr Murunga the disputed land at USh132 million but the transfers were not signed and no photographs of the seller were provided as required by law.
Mr Murunga was quizzed on how he acquired the land titles without getting the photographs of the seller and false declaration of his nationality.
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