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Watoto Church Boss Pastor Skinner Implicated In Grabbing 10,000 Acres Of Land

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Julius Rwotlony (in a white shirt) testifying before the commission, inset is pastor Skinner

Watoto church founder and leader, Pastor Gary Skinner has been implicated in grabbing 10,000 acres of land in Nwoya District.

This was revealed by Julius Rwotlony, the associated team leader Watoto church while testifying before the commission of inquiry into land matters. Rwotlony was first accused by the commission’s lead counsel Ebert Byenkya of hiding evidence from the commissioners on the way Watoto church was involved in the shoddy transaction of the Ker Bwomb clan land in Nwoya.

“Mr. Rwotlony, you told us that you are a senior pastor at Watoto church but its seems you are hiding something from this commission.

You told us that your lawyer handled the land in Nwoya, ask him who gave him instructions to enter into this business,” Byenkya quizzed Rwotlony.

However, Rwotlony insisted that on many occasions, as senior pastors, they don’t handle church business especially concerning property transactions. He testified that it’s their lawyers of Acadia and Company Advocates who handle such business and that they are better positioned to give better answers concerning the Nwoya land dispute.

Byenkya tasked him again to ask his lawyer Henry Nyegenya (who he came with) from Acadia and Company Advocates to tell him who gave his law firm permission to handle the transactions.

“My lord, you have put me in a tight situation, the Nwoya business was handled by the top management of the Church. This top council is headed by pastor Garry Skinner and he is the one who can testify on this matter properly,” Rwotlony submitted.

He denied that according to the documents they have in custody, they don’t own any land in Nwoya district.

This prompted Byenkya to warn him to stop telling the commission lies. He showed him a map which the commission got from the department of survey and mapping indicating that Watoto church owns 10,000 acres of land in Nwoya.

On seeing the map, Rwotlony admitted that it’s true they got instructions from Skinner to get land in Nwoya to develop the district.

He added that they instructed their lawyers to legally assist the Ker Bwomb clan in Nwoya to obtain land titles for their land.

Byenkya asked him to tell the commission how much the church has so far spent on facilitating these transactions. Rwotlony said that he didn’t know the amount so far spent since he does not work in the accounts department. He asked the commission to excuse him so that he goes back and asks the accountants. Byenkya squeezed Rwotlony to tell the commission what exactly the church is expecting in return to facilitating the locals process their land.

Byenkya later told him that a group of people from Ker Bwomb clan led by a one Silvino Kibota complained to the commission that their clan leader Rwot Ojok connived with Americans and Watoto church to grab land belonging to their clan.  He said that Watoto church lawyers advised Rwot Ojok to establish an association of Ker Bwomb trustees to manage the clan land on behalf of the entire clan.

Byenkya said that Kibota’s group think that Watoto is targeting their land by giving a few members of their clan a lot of money. He said that Watoto’s action have divided the Ker Bwomb clan members and everyone is now looking at the other as a thief.

Rwotlony defended their action and said that they were not aiming to disuniting the Ker Bwomb clan members but they only wanted to develop the area and since they discovered that there were misunderstandings, they decided to leave the land until the Ker Bwomb people resolve their misunderstandings.

Byenkya informed Rwotlony that the commission is still investigating the matter and very soon, through the chairperson of the Commission Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the commission will summon Skinner to testify on the matter.

 

By Jamil Lutakome

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CRIME

UPDF Image Has Been Badly Tainted With Torture Allegations And Redeeming It Will Not Be Easy – Army Admits

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Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has accused the UPDF Command of paying deaf ear to complaints brought against UPDF officers who have been accused of torturing Ugandans, revealing she is considering bringing criminal charges against these individual army officers.

Kadaga made the threats today during the launch of the Uganda Law Society quarterly Rule of Law Report at Serena Hotel in Kampala where she tasked the UPDF Officer in charge of Human Rights Brig. Charles Wacha to explain why UPDF is taking long to bring to book individual security officers who tortured, maimed MPs and other civilians during the AruaMunicipality By-elections as well as residents along fishing communities.

“I want you to educate me how I can initiate proceedings against soldiers either in Court Martial or elsewhere for violating human rights of the people of Uganda. I have serious intentions of several cases for flouting human rights not only Arua but in Namayingo,” Kadaga said.

The Speaker noted that despite several efforts of sending reports to the UPDF Command and have the culprits punished, her requested have been met with deaf ears from UPDF.

“The brutality meted against civilians in the fishing industry has gone unabated because they have sent the complaints to UPDF Command and nothing has been done. I want to know how to initiate proceedings,” Kadaga added.

In response, Brig. Charles Wacha, the UPDF director for Human Rights assured the legal fraternity that all UPDF officers who tortured people during the Arua Municipality by-elections fracas will be soon be arraigned before the General Court Martial adding that this will be in the Force’s best interest because UPDF’s image has been tainted badly and redeeming this image will not be easy after several people were beaten tortured and maimed during the fracas.

The Speaker’s remarks follow recent visit in Buvuma, Buyende and Nakasongola where UPDF Marines Forces are accused of torturing the people living on the Islands, reports she received during a fundraising ceremony for women groups in Bukooli Islands over the weekend.

During the ceremony, George Ouma, (Bukolli Islands) MP complained of the commercialisation of the operation of the marines where it alleged that UPDF grab mature fish from the fishermen and eventually sale it for personal gain.

The report also comes at a time when Kadaga asked President Yoweri Museveni to bring to book all officers accused of torturing MPs and Ugandans during the Arua fracas, where she noted that it would be hard for Parliament to conduct any business from the Executive before these officers are brought to book.

 

By Stella Mugoya

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Bobi Wine To Government: Some People Want To Shoot At Us During My Return But People Power Isn’t Violent

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Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine has responded to government claims that People Power is a violent group that wants to use unlawful means to overthrow the government.

In a video clip he posted this morning on his social media page, Bobi Wine schooled those talking ill of people power that it’s just a slogan used to echo the pain that millions of Ugandans are going through because of the oppressive regime.

Bobi went further and stated that they are not a violent group as the state has tried portray them but have always preached peace.

“We have been alerted of what the state is planning against us. They have printed lots of t-shirts with people power slogans targeting to shot at us. We have also been told that they are planning to use criminals to commit crimes in names of people power then put the blame on us,” Bobi Wine stated in his video.

“I want to tell you that the people we are scared of are actually very scared of us. they don’t know how to deal with a united group. they’ve never seen so many young people speaking with one voice,” Bobi charged.

While addressing media last week at the media Centre, minister of security Elly Tumwiine pointed out that Peoples power is a violent terror Group targeting to take over power using violent means.

Bobi Wine is expected to return to Uganda on Thursday. Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo revealed that the legislator will be escorted peacefully to his final destination by security operatives.

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They Killed My Mother Who Was Seven Months Pregnant, Shot My Father Three Times In The Stomach And My Hand Was Cut Off Over A Land Dispute – 20-year-old Pins Bishop’s Family

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(R) Rwajjo's hand was cut off after being shot, (L) Mutungi explains to Bamugemereire how their land was grabbed

20-year-old Charles Rwojo has narrated how he lost his seven months pregnant mother, his niece and his arm over a land dispute.

Rwojo who is currently staying in Ruhengyere government farm in Kiruhura District narrates that he he lost his mother Enid Ndengyeya who was seven months pregnant, his niece Winnie Akansasira, his friend Joseph Rwahakaruza, his father Charles Mutungi, was shot three times in the stomach but survived death and his left hand.

In an exclusive interview with this website, Rwojo narrates that in 1999, a group of over 10 policemen armed with guns, batons and teargas canisters stormed their home at Kinoni village, Kayonza parish, Kakasta sub county, Kiruhura district in the night accompanied by a group of people who were armed with stones, sticks and machetes.

“I was young (when all this happened) but upto now I still hear those voices of people telling us to come out of our house, daddy told us to wait and see what was going to happen next.

As we were still panicking inside the house, we heard bullets outside and voices of people telling us to get out  if we still wanted to live,” Rwojo narrates.

He says that his mother, the late Ndengyeya opened the door to run away from the attackers while carrying his young sister on her back. As soon as she opened the door, the policemen who were outside the house started firing at her, she was shot in the stomach and she died on the spot. He adds that the policemen continued firing inside their house until other village members started making an alarm.

Mutungi explains to Bamugemereire how their land was grabbed

“By that time I was lying on the ground unconscious because the bullets hit my hand. I last saw my father crying while holding my dead mother as we we were rushed to Mbarara hospital. A Few hours later, after gaining consciousness, my sister come to my sick bed and told me that my mother was killed together with Winnie and Rwahakaruza who was my friend. She also told me that my father was shot in the stomach but he survived,” Rwojo told the Grapevine.

He disclosed that he didn’t bury his mother because by the time she was laid to rest, doctors were preparing to cut off his hand after the bullets smashed his bones. He narrates that on the fateful day when they were attacked, he saw Isaac Ndahiro, a man who for a long time disputed with his family over land, among the attackers.

When they were discharged from the hospital, his father Mutungi told them that they were not supposed to go back to their home, he told them that they were going to stay at Rwamwanja refugee camp for sometime. He says that life was very difficult in the camp so they decided to go back to Kinono village to stay with their neighbors.

He adds that one day General Kale Kayihura, the former Inspector General of Police visited their village and they reported to him how they were forcefully evicted from
their land by Ndahiro who is of Rwandese origin. He says that Kayihura just told them to go to the government farm where they stay up to now.

He notes that during the attack, Ndahiro stole some of their cattle, they lost the rest of the cattle because they didn’t have land to graze them. They were later told that Ndahiro was charged with criminal cases of murder, attempted murder and forceful eviction of people. He was imprisoned at Mbarara government prison but was later released after six months over lack of evidence to pin him and his co-accused.

“The evidences was available, those people attacked us and everybody saw them killing our people. How comes that the government was saying that there was no evidence, Ndahiro gave them money because he is a very rich man,” Rwojo says. He narrates that because of evictions, he dropped out of school in primary two, and his prayer right now is for government to help them get justice and to be returned to their land.

Some of the locals who attended the hearing

Last week, his father Charles Mutungi also testified before the commission of inquiry into land matters that the disputed 565 acres land, located on block 11 plot 12 Ankole belonged to his father the late Christopher Kajundira. He reported that his father bought the land in 1962 and his ownership was authorized by Edward Mutaswera, Nathan Rwakanuma and Alfred Mutaswera who were members of the Ankole land board. Mutungi said that in the same year Bishop Kosia Shalita started claiming for their land.

He testified that the problem was with the boundaries not the entire land, Shalita reported the matter to Mbarara magistrates court but he lost the case after the Chief Magistrate Absalom Bwetugye ruled that Shalita’s land was smaller than what he claimed.

The magistrate planted boundary marks and tress to demarcate the land. The magistrate also told Shalita that if he wasn’t satisfied with his judgment, he was free to appeal in 30 days, he appealed to Mbarara High Court but he died before the judgment was made. Mutungi told the commission chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire that Ndahiro followed the matter aggressively because he is related to Bishop Shalita. The commission inspected the land and Bamugemereire told the gathering that she was instructed by the president to investigate the dispute and prepare a final report. She warned Ndahiro’s workers to stop harassing the neighbouring community and ordered the police authorities to make a report on Ndahiro’s residents after getting reports that they come from Rwanda to displace Ugandans.

Ndahiro is expected to appear before the commission to give his side of the story.

By Jamil Lutakome

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