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    INSIDE STORY: How Principal Judge Dr. Zeija’s Leadership Style Forced Justice Nyanzi Into Early Retirement…

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    Justice Yasin Nyanzi (R) and the Principal Judge Dr. Flavian Zeija (L)

    President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the appointing authority, through Justice Benjamin Kabito’s Judicial Service Commission has allowed Justice Yasin Nyanzi to go into early retirement before clocking 65 years.

    Highly placed sources at the High Court Lands Division revealed to theGrapevine that in 2022, out of frustration, Justice Nyanzi wrote to the president seeking for his permission to be allowed to retire early citing personal issues.

    At the end of the year, Museveni wrote back allowing him to retire and he is currently enjoying his private life at his farm in Mukono district.

    “He declined to take the advice of his friends to go back to his law firm of Nyanzi Kiboneka Mbabazi and Company Advocates to practice private legal practice and he decided to stay at his farm doing farming,” a source said.

    His friends were very sure that Justice Nyanzi’s legal expertise especially on land and criminal law were going to boost their law firm when he joined his colleague Muhammad Mbabazi who representd former presidential candidate John Patrick Amama Mbabazi in the 2016 presidential election petition against president Museveni.

    Even though Mbabazi lost the petition, his lawyer gave president Museveni’s legal team which comprised of the current Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Peter Kabaste, Joseph Mastiko, Edwin Karugire, Enos Tumusiime a hard time.

    Mbabazi brought in Court touching evidence pinning candidate Museveni.

    While on the bench, Justice Nyanzi, who was known to be a fearless judge stood his ground when former Attorney General Peter Nyombi tried to intimidate him in the controversial case between the Attorney General and Kampala City Lord Mayor Ssalongo Erias Lukwago on the matter of his impeachment.

    Nyombi wanted Lukwago to recuse himself from the case claiming that he was biased against him because of him being a Muganda and a Muslim like Lukwago but he declined and blasted him in his ruling.

    Justice Nyanzi also stood strong when denying city businessman Mathew Kanyamunyu bail but at the time of his retirement he was one of the disgruntled judges at the High Court.

    Principal Judge Dr. Flavian Zeija transferred Justice Nyanzi to the High Court Lands Division and placed Justice John Eudes Keitirima as the head of the Division deputized by Justice Henry Isabirye who are both his juniors.

    Sources close to Justice Nyanzi claim that their man took Justice Zeija’s decision as humiliation and when he thought of how he always missed whenever it came to promoting him to the Constitutional Court which also doubles as the Court of Appeal, he decided to throw in the towel.

    A number of senior judges have been complaining that Justice Zeija is not giving them positions of heading the Division but making their juniors to be their supervisors.

    They allege that Dr. Zeija is this intentionally because they competed against him on the job of Principal judge.

    Justice Lydia Mugambe Ssali was recently saved by President Museveni who supported her candidature to be appointed as a judge of the International Residual Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunal.

    However junior judges are very happy with Justice Zeija’s leadership style explaining that the judiciary needs young blood to clear the huge backlog which is placing the judiciary in bad light.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NATIONAL

    Maj. Gen. Otafiire, Brig. Rwamirama, Maj. Gen. Muhwezi Fight Deepens Over Njeru Stock Farm Land And Multibillion Digital Number Plates Deal…

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    L-R: Maj. Brig. Gen. Bright Rwamirama, Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi and Gen. Kahinda Otafiire

    The fight between veteran war comrades Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, the senior Internal Affairs minister; Brig. Gen. Bright Rwamirama, the junior agriculture minister in charge of animals and Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi over Njeru stock farm and digital number plates deal has deepened.

    Speaking to Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s CBS radio, a furious Otafiire rubbished allegation in the media that his boss President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has directed that he should be investigated over Njeru stock farm land grabbing.

    He explained that president Museveni had never made such a directive and insisted that there are groups of people in government who want to portray him as a land grabber.

    “I have just jetted into the country, but you go and ask Rwamirama what he wants from me. Why is he fighting me over land that even the President knows has never been owned by Njeru stock farm,” Otafiire said.

    He wondered how President Museveni directed government officials to investigate the grabbing of Njeru stock farm land yet he presided over the opening of a number of factories that were built on the said land.

    He confirmed that he owns 100 acres of land on the said land and it has never been government land.

    He disclosed that the land was owned by Ham Mukasa family who sold it to him and other government officials who also bought acres of land for themselves.

    He rubbished claims that cabinet is going to discuss the report made by the Attorney General and Officials from the Ministry of Land accusing Minister Rwamirama of spreading falsehoods.

    He further claimed that government officials have been getting billions of money annually claiming that they were paying landlords who own Njeru stock farm and now they are very scared because they are going to be forced to vomit the money or even face imprisonment on charges of fraud.

    He boasted that he is ready to face his boss president Museveni and explain the truth to him even though Rwamirama insists that the land belongs to government.

    During the same radio interview, Otafiire questioned Security Minister Maj. Gen. Muhwezi’s agenda and plan to put digital number plates on government vehicles police cars.

    He explained that when the move to digitalise vehicles in the country was being made, Ugandans were told that it is about fighting crime and that the technology was going to help follow up movement of all cars and motorcycles.

    He wondered whether Muhwezi established that government vehicles are the ones being used in committing criminalities.

    This is not the first time that Otafiire and Muhwezi are facing off over digital number plates.

    At one time President Museveni had to summon them for a meeting in State House Entebbe.

    According to government plans, the program of rolling out new number plates was supposed to be in three phases starting with government vehicles, then newly registered ones, and finally those that are already on the road.

    Acquiring the digital plate for a New number plates will cost 714,300 while changing numbers will cost 150,000 shillings. The deal was finalized in 2021 and Museveni wrote to Muhwezi and instructed him to act fast.

    “Do not waste time with any other group because these were the first to bring this proposal.” In the letter, Museveni said he was initially concerned about two things regarding the Russian company; first, whether its technology works, and two the funding for the project.

    Through the Ministry of Works and Transport together with the Ministry of Security, the government agreed a 10-year deal with the Russian company to install digital tracking chips in all automobile number plates registered in the country under the Intelligent Transport Management Systems program- ITMS.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NATIONAL

    INSIDE STORY: How Banks Crisis Over Forged Land Titles Forced M7 To Summon Chief Justice Dollo, DPP Abodo, IGP Byakagaba And Land Ministry Bosses…

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    L-R: Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, President Museveni, Minister Judith Nabakooba and IGP Abass Byakagaba

    President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has summoned the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Jane Frances Abodo, the newly appointed Inspector General of police (IGP) Abass Byakagaba and officers from the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development led by senior Minister Judith Nabakooba and Dr. Sam Mayanja who is the junior minister in charge of lands.

    According to highly placed sources, the meeting is expected to take place this week and Suzan Kasingye the Special Presidential Advisor on police was assigned by the president to coordinate the said meeting.

    Sources said that the president summoned the meeting after receiving a detailed report revealing how the country is sitting on a time bomb over land issues.

    The president wants Nabakooba and her team to explain to him how they created land titles on top of the existing ones which land grabbers are using to fraudulently evict rightful land owners.

    Sources said that Museveni directed a clandestine investigation after receiving several complaints from prominent families in the cattle corridor especially in the districts of; Ssembabule, Gomba, Nakaseke and Nakasongola districts; Ankole sub-region and in Northern Uganda alleging that their land is being threatened by land grabbers who are being backed by government officials.

    He added that President Museveni evn instructed his lawyers to rescue his land title in Kisozi which was encroached on and the encroacher had even secured a land title on top of his.

    One of the lawyers who represents President Museveni confirmed the development revealing that they used the legal process to cause the cancellation of the illegal land title.

    He further explained that the land grabber was planning to use the illegal land title to blackmail the President so that he is compensated with billions to avoid bad publicity.

    Sources said that Museveni received a complaint from Chief Justice Dollo accusing top government officials including army officers of fueling land grabbing in Northern Uganda hiding behind the Balalo.

    Sources added that in one of the meetings in Kisozi, Museveni was informed that one of the reasons why people have not utilized their land through the four acre model is because they are being threatened with eviction.

    The President was also informed that the number of people being killed in land fights has increased while others have got permanent bodily injuries and their properties worth billions of shillings destroyed.

    “One of the reasons why President Museveni was defeated in the 2021 general elections in Buganda was because of rampant land evictions and related problems, so he is very determined to solve it basing on the report compiled by his private intelligence team,” a State House source said.

    The president, according to sources, wants the Chief Justice Dollo to clarify on allegations that judicial officers issue eviction orders and other court orders related to land issues after being compromised and given bribes by land grabbers.

    Judicial officers are accused of violating the Chief Justice’s directives on land matters including visiting the locus and issuing the directives based on documents and testimony which has resulted into delivering confusing judgments.

    However, insiders in the judiciary said that the judiciary will be represented by the Deputy Chief Justice Richard Butera because Chief Justice Dollo is sick and he is allegedly out of the country receiving medication.

    Sources said that the meeting will also discuss the crisis which banks and other financial institutions are going through and are likely to lose billions of shillings.

    Sources claim that banks and other financial institutions issued loans on forged land titles and when the people who secured the loans defaulted, the banks now cannot sell the land titles used as security.

    This development was confirmed by Minister Dr. Sam Mayanja who explained that the most affected banks are those operating in districts of Mukono, Buikwe, Kayunga and Wakiso.

    State House sources divulged that the issue of the Resident District Commissioners (RDC) and their Deputies plus the Resident City Commissioners and their deputies will also be discussed and a reshuffle may ensue thereafter.

    Minister Mayanja asserted that in most of areas he has visited to solve land problems, RDCs have been cited in land grabbing and evictions.

    He mentioned the districts of Mukono and Kyankwanzi where RDCs as the security chairpersons violated the presidential directive on land evictions and allowed evictions to take place in their respective areas.

    He explain that the President directed that before any court order is executed, the security committee of the area has to first examine it and forward it to the Minister of Lands for guidance which is not being done in Kyankwanzi and Mukono districts.

    The president also wants to know from Byakagaba why policemen are protecting land grabbers and detaining rightful land owners especially the bibanja owners.

    Minister Mayanja also accused police of conniving with RDCs to frustrate his orders that are meant to protect the rightful land owners.

    He revealed that these RDCs with the help of police detain rightful land owners and upon releasing them, force them to run into hiding.

    The presence of the DPP will guide the meeting on how the suspected land grabbers can be prosecuted.

    Sources said that the Attorney General together with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs are set to table land reforms in parliament before the end of this political term.

    The coming land reforms will be guided by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s land inquiry report.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NATIONAL

    OPINION: UK Parliament And The “Invisible”, Cherished Gays…

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    I want to thank the Government and people of the United Kingdom (UK) for the cordial relations with Uganda at both individual and state level.

    A number of our people are in the UK on different assignments and callings us, equally, a number of UK residents are in Uganda on different interests.

    Other than the uncomfortable background of the colonizer-colonised, our people are friendly with each other and our nations are proudly members of the Commonwealth fraternity together. We stand to benefit from each other more as long we advance as equals or respectful nation states.

    I want to thank the UK Parliament for having interest in Ugandan affairs and considering it fit to deliberate on them as and when it deems necessary. On Thursday 9th May, 2024, the debate was on Anti-Homosexuality Act passed by the Ugandan Parliament on March 21, 2023. Lord Michael Cashman had asked His Majesty’s Government “what representations they have made to the government of Uganda regarding its Anti-Homosexuality Act”.

    Various MPs spoke, and the spirit of their debate was in condemnation of the Ugandan Parliament. It was also in condemnation of the Uganda Government and the Ugandan people at large.

    I will quote a few as follows (adapted from the day’s Hansard record); “My Lords, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act has increased violence and discrimination against LGBT+ people. The UK has made its opposition clear to all levels of the Ugandan Government. On 3 April, the Ugandan Constitutional Court struck down some provisions. However, the legislation remains, including the death penalty for so-called aggravated homosexuality. The Deputy Foreign Secretary met the Ugandan Justice Minister on 3 April and underlined the importance of ensuring that people are free from persecution regardless of sexuality and stressed our concern at this legislation,”- Lord Michael Cashman said.

    Lord Richard Benyon stated:  “My Lords, I congratulate the Government on the action they have taken so far, but they can and must do more. The Ugandan law criminalises even those who supply services to LGBT people and, as the Minister said, people face the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality or 20 years in prison merely for being homosexual. The situation is dire and worsening, with arrests, people going into hiding, blackmail and service providers closing. Therefore, I ask the Government to mirror the actions taken by the United States, Canada and the World Bank: targeted sanctions on named individuals and on access to individual assets held in the UK and an immediate pause on development support that could be used by discriminatory actors. Finally, they should call on Uganda to end implementing the law with forced anal examinations. Such barbaric human rights abuses must be vigorously denounced.”

    Then, Lord Henry Bellingham said: “My Lords, will the Minister not agree that one thing that could make a really big difference to this appalling situation would be a change in regime and free and fair elections? He will have noted that the European Parliament concluded that the last elections were neither free nor fair and, in fact, were violent. What more can we do to ensure there is multi-party democracy? Will he find time to meet the outstanding new leader of the opposition, Joel Ssenyonyi, who is a brave young politician who deserves our support?”

    As I have stated in my introduction, it’s good that the UK Parliament occasionally picks on matters in other countries for discussion and the issue of LGBT seems to matter a lot.

    While the process of passing the particular legislation was transparent and contributory, with the voices of Uganda considered, and even court has made its pronouncement on the law, its passing has had serious outcomes. One among such is reprisals in terms of cutting donor aid and consideration of sanctions against certain individuals.

    From the words of one of the Lords in the UK Parliament, even “regime change” is under consideration. Lord Bellingham even went ahead and mentioned that the Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LOP), Joel Ssenyonyi, “is a brave young politician who deserves our support should be supported.”

    So, let’s take it that the Act as it stand today is harsh on LGBTs, regardless of the justification the Uganda Parliament had; since the law was passed, how many cases of LGBTs have been prosecuted in Uganda’s courts of law? How many members of the LGBT community have been persecuted, attacked physically or killed for their state of being? Where is this dire situation being talked about in Uganda? How many Ugandans are homosexuals? Do or don’t we need a census to determine this so as to weigh the gravity of the “crisis” that prevails in Uganda as per the discussions in the UK Parliament?

    How come I personally don’t know any homosexual but hear a lot of talk about them by organisations and foreign missions. I am also aware of a habit by “greencard” and “permanent residency” seekers in Western capitals claiming to be fugitives from Uganda apparently because of the orientation. And the host countries’ governments believe such claims and go on to grant their wishes. Others claim political persecution when nobody knows them, while others may be criminals escaping from the long arm of the law for real offences committed and take refuge in claiming human rights abuses.

    It would be most unfortunate if the UK MPs are informed by such baseless claimants.

    It’s also interesting to see one MP single out Joel Ssenyonyi for support yet Parliament of Uganda was nearly unanimous in passing the legislation, including the opposition bench (then led by Hon. Matthias Mpuuga). What’s special about the current L.O.P and in what sense is he to be supported and to do what? Isn’t this direct interference in the affairs of Uganda?

    On the proposal for regime change, in whose interest is it? The Uganda government is elected by Ugandans. Is regime change intended to bring homosexuals to power when they are not only obviously a minority but they are also “invisible” because, as by my example, I have never seen any? What’s so pressing about their rights that the rights of other Ugandans-the absolute majority and the leadership-are disregarded and punishments meted out on the population in terms of sanctions and donor fund cuts? Is this democracy at play or a new form of imperialism and self-contradicting abuse of human rights of Ugandans?

     

    Faruk Kirunda  is the Deputy Press Secretary to the President of Uganda

    Contact: kirundaf2@gmail.com

    0776980486/0783990861

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