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    Equity Bank’s Bid To Grab Tycoon Higenyi’s Building Becomes Complicated After Gen. Museveni Intervenes…

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    Equity Bank Kampala Road branch and tycoon Higenyi's Namuswa Plaza (R) in Wandegeya

    Kampala city tycoon Dr. Alfred Higenyi Mwenembiye Jaala, who is also a senior NRM cadre, has managed to get the President to intervene in the quarreling between him and Equity Bank Uganda.

    The big man from Rwakitura has already assigned a top Minister to find a way of ensuring that Higenyi doesn’t get deprived of his property unfairly.

    The property in question is the famous Namuswa Plaza (Block 38 Kibuga Plots 298 & 299) which is a huge commercial building based in Wandegeya.

    Higenyi, a vastly rich man with a lot of prime property in Kampala, accuses Equity Bank of fraudulently trying to hide behind the 3bn loan they gave him on 23rd December 2020 to grab his Building valued at 10bn. At the prompting of State House, Higenyi, a long-time friend of Gen Salim Saleh, was asked to put his complaint in writing to enable the president to find some effective way to intervene.

    State House sources have since shared a copy of his 2-page petition which is firmly in the hands of the President with all the relevant annexures. The annexures relate to documentation and correspondence which has been exchanged over the years regarding the 3bn loan.

    In the petition, the senior NRM cadre from Butaleja explains everything clearly indicating why he thinks the much-hated Equity Bank didn’t treat him fairly at all. He starts by begging Museveni “intervene” to help “rescue” his property because it’s all he has looking at it has his source of pension in retirement. ”Equity Bank has made it a habit to grab our properties in the recent times even if one offered to pay,” Higenyi states in a bid to liken Equity Bank to mischief similar to what Sudhir used to be accused of.

    He admits the loan he took out on 23rd December 2020 was repayable in 8 years. That he used the money to complete the building which originally existed as a mere shell. That he acquired the building in that shell state and had to remodel it for the tenants to be able to move in. He says as soon as he began earning some rental income, COVID19 struck and this complicated things for not only him but all other arcade owners.

    Higenyi explains to the President that because businesses were closed down, for two years he didn’t earn any income because his Namuswa Plaza was closed as all tenants stayed away. He approached Equity Bank and requested to have the loan restructured to have a longer repayment period but they refused even when they knew he wasn’t earning anything. “Instead they increased the repayment installments from 57m to 65m per month.”

    He explains this made worse an already bad situation because even when the economy reopened, many of his tenants didn’t return. This deprived him of business and opportunity to make money and be able to promptly pay up but the authorities at Equity Bank weren’t that understanding.

    Higenyi informed the President that he ended up managing 30m per month where Equity Bank demanded 65m.

    That in total, he has so far deposited 500m out of the 3bn he took out barely 2 years ago. Equity Bank insists the balance is now 4.4bn which means the total becomes 4.9bn which Higenyi must pay up and now as opposed to 8 year repayment period he was originally offered.

    On 15th August 2022, Equity bank advertised the building and gave him up to 15th September. He says within that one month, he tried five times to engage his creditors but Equity bosses denied him audience. To him, this shows they were not acting in good faith. Their interest was the building and not recovering the money.

    This prompted him to engage a lawyer, who is former Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana to secure a court injunction against Equity bank. One of Higenyi’s spouses has also put a caveat on the property implying no transaction should take place. She is putting a caveat because this is part of the family property or estate yet no spousal consent was obtained as required by law as the mortgage was being undertaken between her husband and Equity bank.

    The spousal consent plea, once successfully pleaded, could put Equity bank in real trouble to the extent they might even fail to ever recover anything once court declares the mortgage invalid or defective for want of spousal consent.

    Higenyi says that the property value currently is 10bn and yet Equity bank has rejected his proposal to be the one to get the buyer and give them what is due to them. He says this too has been rejected by Equity which shows they have fraudulent intentions. He wonders why Equity bank has rejected his own buyer who wanted to pay 10bn for the building.

    He says his lawyer of Kayanja & Co Advocates has been engaging on his behalf but Equity bank has been dodging them which clearly shows they are not acting in good faith. He wonders why Equity bank even goes as far as ignoring the caveat on the property which has since been sold to SINACO Ltd, a company which is owned by Kampala tycoon Swaib Kiyemba and his son Moses Kiyemba. SINCO is also the one which bought the building housing Senana supermarket near State House Nakasero and Nana hostel in Kagugube near Makerere/LDC. All these were being sold as a result of foreclosure after the original owners failed to meet loan obligations.

    Higenyi informs Museveni of the trauma he endured on Tuesday 4th October when a group of heavily armed army men and policemen raided his Namuswa Plaza management offices and forcefully took over ownership of the building. The Wandegeya DPC commanded the operation which Higenyi says shows bias.

    They claimed to act on behalf of SINCO Ltd whose lawyers from D Kagarura Advocates & Solicitors subsequently went to the building and informed tenants that management and ownership of the building had changed.

    Higenyi also reveals to the President that effective 15th September, he began seeing notifications on his phone indicating some money was being deposited and received on his bank account, something he objected to but still Equity bank never cooperated. The bank eventually purported to garnish his bank account in order to deny him any access to the same.

    He says he was treated very unfairly because he got the money and was ready to pay up within the notice period of 15th August to 15th September but Equity bank denied him audience.

    He concludes with “Your Excellency this is my life investment which I look to for my entire family and very many dependents’ survival. I’m also your ardent cadre from Butaleja. The habit of banks grabbing our property and nobody comes to intervene leaves a bitter taste in our mouth.”

    He signed off as Dr. Higenyi Alfred Jaala the chairman for board of directors.

     

    By Grapevine Reporter

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    MY MONEY

    Kabaka Mutebi’s Siblings Hire M7’s Lawyers To Battle City Businessman At Supreme Court Over Juicy Mutungo Land….

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    The Administrators of the Estate of Sir Edward Walugembe Muteesa II, the former King of Buganda have hired President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni lawyers to battle city businessman Dr. Muhammad Buwule Kasasa at the Supreme Court over the juicy Mutungo land.

    theGrapevine has exclusively learnt that Kabaka Mutebi’s siblings led by Prince David Kintu Wasajja, Princess Dorothy Nassolo, Princess Sarah Kagere, on behalf of their family have instructed K&K Advocates, a law firm owned by President Museveni’s son-in-law Edwin Karugire and the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka to proceed with the appeal after losing at the Court of Appeal.

    Last month, three justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Christopher Gashirabaki, Justice Elizabeth Musoke, who has since been promoted to the Supreme Court and Justice Eva Luswata dismissed the appeal from the royals and declared Kasasa as the owner of the said land.

    The contested land is measuring 640 acres situated at Mutungo, Luzira hill in Nakawa Division Kampala district on Kyadondo Block 237 plot 39, 29, 48, 56, 67, 59, 69, 81, 82, 88, 111, 112, 114, 115, 142, 148, 150, 335, 97, 70, 138, 131, 154, 155, 178, 179, 388 and 410.

    Buganda royals claim that Kasasa grabbed their father’s land when he was exiled by former president Milton Obote in 1966 Buganda crisis.

    However, Kasasa has evidence that he bought the land legally from the bank after it was mortgaged by the registered owners then Lake View properties limited who bought the land from Muteesa himself during his broke days in exile in UK.

    theGrapevine has also established that Kasasa, through his lawyers of SK Kiiza & Company Advocates has protested the royal’s move to hire Museveni’s lawyers to present them at the Supreme Court citing conflict of interest.

    The lawyers claim that K&K Advocates cannot represent the petitioners when Attorney General Kiwanuka, a senior patner in the law firm, is a party in the appeal.

    The Attorney General was sued jointly with Kasasa and lawyers insist that his law firm cannot represent the other party.

    “We are of the strong view that as much as a party is at liberty to choose a lawyer, K&K Advocates is not a suitable law firm to represent parties who are at the same time suing the government through the Attorney General. Definitely, Kiryowa Kiwanuka the Attorney General would be conflicted in this matter,” Kasasa’s lawyers protested.

    Kiwanuka was not reached for a comment because he was not picking our calls by press time.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    MY MONEY

    Why Do You Want To Push Locals Out Of Business In Favour Of Foreigners! Artisanal Miners Appeal To M7 Over Unfair Policies…

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    Artisan miners

    Artisanal and Small Scale miners in the districts of Busia and Namayingo have appealed to president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni over unfair policies put in place  to regulate mining operations in the country.

    The miners through their umbrella body the Uganda Artisanal and Small Scale Miners of Eastern Uganda led by their chairperson Stephen Engidoh Paade claim that the unfair policies and laws are aimed at pushing them out of business to favour the wealthy and big investors in the sector who are basically foreigners.

    He  cited policies that ban them from using mercury and the fine of Shs120m as penalty against those found using it.

    They are also against the requirement of depositing Shs380m before they start the said business. Paade said that the mining industry employs more than 30,000 people in Busia alone amid challenges of environmental destruction.

    He said that while it is true that mercury affects people, there is a need for the authorities to move gradually because the blanket ban on mercury use will be counterproductive.

    “Let us sensitise the people on the dangers before doing anything to eliminate it or bring an alternative and also show them what the government intends to do to protect their livelihoods and the environment,” he said.

    Paade warned that the blanket ban on mercury use would lead to smuggling it into the country which is against the country’s development. He pleaded to government to provide a solution as an alternative to the use of mercury.

    Josephine Aguttu, a leader at Tiira Small Scale Mining Association in Busia District lamented over the gaps in the online system used to apply for license saying it gives speculators a chance to acquire mining licenses on their land leading to disputes.

    “It is unfortunate that we had a prospecting exploration that was expiring but upon checking on the cadastral map, it showed that someone else had been given a license on my land where I was earning a living. So the person with a mining license expects me to vacate my land because I am not allowed to mine without permission,” she said.

    Aguttu questioned how the person with the mineral right can harmoniously extract without destabilizing the original occupant of the land.

    She explained that gold is a commodity that has a ready market but the challenge the miners are facing is how it is valued, since the miners are not in a position to determine the purity of their gold.

    “At the Ministry of Energy, there are people working in the laboratories where we take our small gold for testing the purity as we pay taxes to government, but why can’t the government bring such people at regional level so that we can take samples and determine out gold to avoid being cheated at the market” she said.

    Stephen Baraza, a miner in Namayingo complained that the Shs120m  fine is an abuse and was made out of a misconception that gold mining is a profitable venture whereas it is not.

    “When you look around, people are poor and setting a fine of Shs120m for use of mercury yet there is no alternative means you are going to imprison very many people from the community” said Baraza said.

    The miners made the complaints at a meeting held in Busia at the weekend to lay strategies on how to voice out their discontent against the regulations.

    Joshua Rukundo, a senior Project officer at Solidaridad, a regional advocacy body said in a separate interview that mining as a source of livelihood is very essential to the society where it is happening and also to the modern civilization.

    To ensure sustainable mining, Mr Rukundo said there is need to consider how to carry out the activity without causing the adverse effects to the environment as well as protecting the rights of women and children but with the community in the lead.

    He appealed for stakeholder engagements to ensure that the award of mining licenses is done with the rights of land owners and occupants protected to avoid disputes.

    “We have to get stakeholders on table to understand that you have a right to mine as per the license but the community has a right to live as per their right to own the land. There has to be a clear way by which a licensed entity agrees legally with land owners to relinquish land and hand it over to the mining activities without being cheated.

    Rukundo appealed to authorities to gradually reduce the use of mercury in the gold mines rather than imposing a blanket ban which may not be effective.

    “This ban on mercury affects the miners directly and their livelihoods. If the case is that we cannot abolish mercury in one night, efforts should be taken to help the miners to gradually reduce the use of mercury as we explore viable alternatives,” he said.

    He added the current alternatives to use are out of the financial ability that the artisanal miners are operating with, like setting up a plant which is expensive for them.

    “By implementing the ban, it is going to increase the number of people in prison because of using mercury. Someone looking at Shs100,000 a day and you want them to pay a fine of Shs120m and or three years in prison is not worth it” he said.

    Early this year, Parliament passed the Mining and Minerals Act which President Museveni signed in October and it recognizes artisanal miners who are required to pay about Shs380m  for a license.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    CRIME

    What Killed Simbamanyo Tycoon Kamya? How Top Lawyer Tried To Use Justice Byabakama’s Electoral Commission Deal To Save His Empire…

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    In one of the meetings where the agenda was to strategise on how to save the business empire of the late Peter Kamya, the proprietor of Simbamanyo Estate limited, one of his friends, who is also a seasoned commercial lawyer proposed a multibillion Electoral Commission deal which he was very sure would save the fallen tycoon’s empire.

    Multiple credible sources have revealed to the mighty Grapevine that this happened in 2018 when Equity bank had started threatening to auction Kamya’s properties which he used as security when securing a loan.

    The buildings were Ssimbamanyo House behind Central Police Station in Kampala city and Afrique Suites situated in Mutungo.

    Kamya, who is a brother-in-law to former deputy Prime Minister Muganwa Kajura allowed one of his senior lawyers to negotiate the deal which involved looking for a new home for the Electoral Commission.

    “The lawyer’s idea was for Kamya to rent the entire building to the Electoral Commission and the money collected as rent be used to service the loan which the bank was very comfortable with but out of the blue, when the deal was almost concluded, the old man changed his mind claiming that his friend was working with the bank to impoverish him and that’s how the deal flopped,” a source said.

    He added that the deal was waiting for the greenlight from president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who was a good friend to Kamya.

    The source added that even the Ministry of Gender was ready to shift to another building.

    Another source said that the Electoral Commission was giving Kamya a big deal compared to what he was receiving from the Ministry of Gender and within 3 to 4 years, the bank’s loan would be fully paid.

    The source said that Kamya changed his mind after getting another opinion from another shrewd young city lawyer who convinced him that the loan he got from Equity bank was not favourable and it can be challenged in Court.

    Sources said that when the bank learnt about Kamya’s plan to challenge them in court, they hastily auctioned both securities to controversial city businessman Sudhir Ruperelia’s Meera Investments Limited and Ronald Luwangula’s Luwaluwa Investments Limited, a move that frustrated Kamya’s entire plan to save his empire.

    He tried to save his empire through courts of law by filing an application seeking a temporary injuction stopping the selling of the said property but he lost the application with costs.

    He further petitioned president Museveni to save his empire arguing that it was illegally sold.

    Unfortunately, after making wide consultations, especially from the Attorney General and Bank of Uganda, the big man advised Kamya to challenge the sale of his properties in courts of law.

    He explained to him that he has no alternative to save him since he was advised that his properties were legally sold.

    Without losing hope, Kamya instructed his new lawyers led by Fred Muwema to institute a suit in the High Court Commercial Division against Crane Bank, Meera Investment Limited, Luwaluwa Investment, and lawyers of Katende Ssempebwa Company Advocates were also joined in the suit.

    The matter was allocated to Justice Stephen Mubiru, the head of the Division.

    Kamya hired Kihika Byenkya and Company Advocates to join his legal team which successfully secured an order for discovery against the respondents.

    Justice Mubiru ordered the respondents to allow the petitioner to inspect their email exchange, bank accounts and phone call logs which were made in the period when his properties were sold, an order which raised dust at the commercial court.

    Lawyers from Katende Ssempebwa Advocates petitioned Justice Rubby Opio Aweri, the Chief Inspector of Courts claiming that justice Mubiru was biased and he has to be investigated over the matter.

    He was ordered to refer the entire Ssimbamanyo file to justice Opio which Mubiru refused to do.

    Mubiru insisted that Justice Opio didn’t have powers to ask for the said file from him and guided that the matter has to proceed but lawyers challenged his action at the Court of Appeal.

    In October 2022, Justice Cheborion Barishaki of the Court of Appeal issued an order stopping Justice Mubiru from proceeding with the matter until three justices of the Court of Appeal determine the respondent’s grievances.

    Sources who have been close to Kamya revealed that Justice Cheborion’s ruling shocked Kamya and from that time, his life changed and it worsened last month and was rushed to Nairobi where he died on Friday morning.

    Sources said that other Simbamanyo Directors are set to continue with the legal fight to rescue their empire.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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