In the Shs2.3 billion land compensation scam, where money was paid to a “ghost” claimant, a city law firm has come under scrutiny over claims of fraud and forgery.
One Natalia Namuli, a 79-year-old woman in the Kagadi area, is alleged to have been represented by attorneys Kyle Lubega and Richard Buzibira of Lubega & Buzibira Co. Advocates in her request for land compensation from the Uganda Land Commission (ULC).
The sum of money that was transferred to the law office to pay Namuli is a portion of the contentious Sh10.6 billion Supplementary Budget that the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development requested for the Financial Year 2020–2021 in order to pay land claimants in the Buganda and Bunyoro subregion.
The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises is looking into the compensation program, which is rife with fraud and irregularities (COSASE).
The attorneys confirmed to the committee in their prior statements that Namuli asked them for their legal services to handle her payment from ULC.
Using letters of administration and certificates of titles, the attorneys were able to establish Namuli as the rightful administrator of the late Atwana Kalette’s estate.
However, it has since been revealed that the alleged letters of administration were falsely forged, Namuli is neither the administrator of the aforementioned estate nor a beneficiary of the compensation, and that she was a participant in a syndicated scheme where she was forced to sign paperwork that, given her level of illiteracy, she could hardly understand.
During the meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2022, Bani Twesigye, a COSASE-affiliated detective assistant inspector of police, revealed this.
On June 21, 2022, the Committee dispatched AIP Twesigye to ascertain the whereabouts of the aforementioned beneficiary [Namuli] and to confirm and validate her eligibility to serve as the estate administrator for the late Kalette.
“I met Namuli and spoke with her, but she vehemently denied serving as the administrator of the late Kalette’s estate. She also denied knowing about it and reiterated that she is unrelated to the late Kalette’s family, Twesigye claimed.
When Twesigye asked Namuli if she had ever handled any letters of administration for the alleged estate or received any payment from ULC, Namuli replied that she had never done either. However, she recalled how in late 2020, her son-in-law, a man named Peter Amara, who was also the former Kibaale LCV Chairperson, drove her to Kampala and forced her to sign several documents without providing any justification.
“Natalia Namuli claimed that she had never received money from the Uganda Land Commission and that she was unaware of any payments made on her behalf by her brother-in-law Peter Amara. Amara apparently approached ULC with the intention of aiding in his mother-in-land law’s compensation, Twesigye continued.
Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, the chair of COSASE, asked the police investigator if Namuli was aware of Lubega & Buzibira Co. Advocates, located at the Social Security House on Jinja Road.
Natalia Namuli is unaware of Lubega & Buzibira Co. Advocates, but according to our conversation, once Amara brought her to Kampala, she was taken to a particular multi-story mansion and forced to sign a number of agreements until late.
The alleged letters of administration were falsified, according to the Police detective, in order to validate the payment.
It appears that Justice Ralph Ochan signed the letters of administration in 2015, despite the fact that he had resigned from his position as Masindi Resident Judge in 2013 to accept his new position as Chairperson of the Public Service Commission.
“It is obvious that the Uganda Land Commission recruited forgers to trick Natalia Namuli, an elderly woman, into signing their documents without being aware of their true motives. According to Detective Twesigye, this appears to have been a syndicate established by Peter Amara, together with several ULC executives and attorneys, through whose accounts these compensation funds traveled.
The claimed letters of administration were fake, according to Hon. Ssenyonyi’s account of his conversation with Ochan.
While Lubega, who is also a signatory to the law firm’s bank account, confirmed that the ULC did, in fact, transfer all the funds intended for Namuli to their account, he was unable to explain or provide any proof that the elderly woman had actually received more than Sh2 billion. He claimed that his partner, Buzibira, was in contact with the client.
“My coworker who has been handling the case asked me to sign [the cheque] so that the client may be paid when the money came into the account. I signed, he took the money out, and I think he paid the client,” Lubega alleged.
Hon. Ssenyonyi turned him over to CIID detectives for more questioning after receiving an unsatisfactory response from him.
Additionally, Ssenyonyi mandated that Buzibira, who has twice ignored committee summonses, go to the police on Friday, June 24, 2022, before an arrest warrant is issued for him.