Minister in Hotsoup over 1.3Billion land sale fraudulent

The State House Anti- Corruption Unit (SHACU) is probing the Bufumbira County South Member of Parliament and former minister, Sam Kwizera Bitangaro, over a sh1.3b suspected fraudulent land transaction in Mubende.

Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, the head of SHACU, said on Friday that Bitangaro, also a former minister, is a suspect in their probe for allegedly selling a chunk of land to Kiboga Twegatte Co-operative Society, which was later found to belong to businessman Abid Alam.

The 1,780-acre land was meant to resettle families evicted from a forest reserve in Kiboga. According to Nakalema, part of over 30,000 people who were evicted from the Luwunga Central Forest Reserve in Kiboga district had settled on land belonging to Abid Alam, at Bukombe in Kassanda district, which sparked off a conflict in the area.

Sam Kwizera Bitangaro Bufumbira County South Member of Parliament

Nakalema made the remarks during a meeting with part of the evictees at the Kiboga district headquarters. Many of the families testified to suffering since they were evicted from the reserve and have failed to find land after the incident.

According to the probe team, President Yoweri Museveni and Oxfam International in 2013 donated sh3b to Kiboga Twegatte Co-operative Society Limited to purchase land to resettle people who lived in the reserve.

According to the probe team, sh1.6b was later withdrawn from the co-operative’s account by the account signatories, who included former board chairman, Erifazi Butaryabusha (the late), the secretary, Dixon Behenenga and the treasurer Elias Tibikwaise.

They allegedly deposited the money on the account of the lawyer, John Owor Onyango, who was hired by Oxfam to guide them on the matter. An additional sh374m was offered by the New Forest Company, which took over the reserves, to purchase 200 acres in Rwansololo Kassanda and sh20m was issued later, to buy more 20 acres in Kansela, Mubende town.

According to Nakalema, Bitangaro was allegedly paid sh1.6b for 1,780 acres and gave the society a land title indicating that the land was located at Bukombe in Kassanda district. Many people moved and settled on the land, but were evicted by Alam, who claimed its ownership.

Nakalema said when her office received the complaints, they asked the lands ministry to open the boundaries. The survey report, according to the probe team, showed that the land belonged to Alam and that the land that Bitangaro sold to the society was non- existent