The Principal Land Registrar of Titles of Wakiso district, Emmanuel Bamwite has admitted to having ignored necessary requirements while issuing seven land titles in a wetland.
Bamwite told the commission of inquiry into land fraud that he regretted having been misled by his senior to hurriedly issue the said titles in Kijabijo wetland which is by law protected land.
In his testimony before the commission on Wednesday, Bamwite revealed that the Principal Land Management Officer for Wakiso district, Satya Semu Mangusho had instructed him to speed up the processing of files, claiming that some people had complained of delays.
As a result, large chunks of land on Plots 117, 683, 674, 679, 688, 681, 684 and 677 each of them measuring in the range of 3 to 6 hectares was given away to private individuals.
Bamwite who was the officer in charge of issuing titles flouted standard procedure which required an offer letter from the district land board.
In a letter dated February 22 2016, Satya Mangusho wrote to Bamwite requesting for a freehold title to be issued for Block 170 Plot 674 which is land in Kijabijo. But the letter was accompanied by only a deed plan as opposed to a copy of an offer letter from the district land board.
Ebert Byenkya, the lead counsel to the commission said; “This is a letter from within your office not the district land board which in normal circumstances should offer freehold titles. I see that Mr. Satya is referring to a minute. Is a minute enough for you to create a title?”
Bamwite in response admitted that “essentially the offer is a must” saying that he only noticed later that the offer letter had been missing. “If only I knew that this land was a wetland, I wouldn’t have issued titles.”
“I concede to that,” the witness told the commission but added that he believed in the reports provided the area land committee which indicated that the land wasn’t gazetted. However, his failure to question Satya’s peddling led the commission to question whether his actions were not intended.
“It was just unfortunate that I relied on my Principal’s instructions and I hadn’t got knowledge from anywhere that there was a problem. I apologize for not having all information surrounding the file.”
In light of the loss that Bamwite’s negligency has caused to governent, Commissioners Robert Sebunya and Mary Odura Ochan asked the witness whether he should be held personally responsible and what steps he has taken to reverse the damage.
“I commit myself that those titles are going to be cancelled because they were issued in a wetland which is not allowed. It was an action which was regrettable. I have met with the Commissioner for Land Registration and we agreed to start the process of cancellation,” Bamwite said.