The newly formed Anti-corruption Monitoring Unit in the Office of the President has Thursday conducted a raid on the Ministry of Lands Zonal Office in Wakiso district following complaints relating to fraud and negligence by lands officials.
The improptu raid was led by the Head of the Anti-corruption Unit, Lt Col Edith Nakalema, Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander, CP Moses Kafeero, detectives from the Police CID who were also escorted by police officers.
The offices were locked and staff ordered to keep in their offices until the detectives had conducted a forensic audit on the documents and other devices. It follows concerns raised by people who were frustrated by the ineffectiveness of the Wakiso land office and the alleged connivance by officials therein with brokers to fleece people in need of land related transactions.
An adjancent government building has been utilized by private individuals who have been exploiting the bureaucracies in the main lands office to conduct land transactions at a fee. It is not clear how the said brokers got approval to conduct government business in a government facility.
Lt Col Nakalema quizzed officials at the lands office about why some of the colleagues were out of office on a Thursday afternoon and on allegations that some offices have been closed.
It remains to be seen how much evidence the detectives will manage to collect and what the fate of the brokers and Wakiso lands officers will be. The Wakiso lands office has been at the centre of numerous cases of land related fraud especially during the ongoing probe into land management, by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission of Inquiry.
In June of last year, Justice Bamugemereire and other Commissioners in the probe made a similar spot-check at the Ministry of Lands zonal offices in Wakiso district following concerns that workers there were arriving late for work and working sluggishly.
During the visit, the Commissioners discovered that the principal lands management officer at Wakiso Lands office, Jackson Mukaga hadn’t arrived until 11am, and that some of the offices lacked the facilities necessary for proper storage of critical land documents.
Over 70% of the land transactions carried out in Uganda are made in Wakiso which is home to 80% of the country’s wetlands and registers the highest land related disputes.
In the course of its probe, the Justice Bamugemereire Commission has also discovered that land registrars in Wakiso District fraudulently sold off wetlands and forest reserves.
While launching the Anti-corruption Monitoring Unit few weeks ago, President Museveni said that the new intervention would work effectively since it requires Ugandans to phone in complaints which are then followed up.
The President said that public confidence in other anti-corruption institutions like the Police and IGG’s office had been eroded due to bureaucracy.