Three police constables attached to the Uganda Land Commission Chairperson-ULC, Beatrice Nyakayisiki Byenkya are on remand on obstruction of justice-related charges. The suspects are police constables Anywar Richard, Titus Wamono, and Edward Turyatunga.
They appeared before the Anti-Corruption Chief Magistrate’s Court Joan Aciro on Friday who read for them the charges of obstructing a search and abuse of office. Court heard that the Police Constables together with their boss Byenkya obstructed Michael Tumukurate, Zakaria Teberindwa, and Superintendent of Police, Noreen Akello from the Inspectorate of Government from carrying out a search at the ULC offices.
According to the Inspectorate of Government, the officials had gone conduct a search on January 4th, 2022 in the exercise of powers conferred by the Inspectorate of Government Act of 2002 but the suspects obstructed them.
On October 12th, 2021, Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba suspended the management of the ULC and assumed duties of the Commission before directing the Inspectorate of Government –IG to interdict Byenkya and other leaders to pave way for investigations into allegations of misconduct, abuse of office, and mismanagement of resources.
In line with the aforementioned directive, the Inspectorate of Government decided to conduct a search at ULC as part of the investigations where they met resistance. The IG further alleges that the Police Constables and Byenkya abused their offices by obstructing a lawful search and that their acts were prejudicial to the interests of their employer, the government of Uganda.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges. The IG Prosecutors Thomas Okoth and Dr. Ernest Katwesigye informed the court that investigations into the matters are still ongoing. They also informed the court that the prime suspect Byenkya was absent in court and asked the magistrate to issue a criminal summons compelling her to appear before the court.
The suspect’s lawyer, Robinson Wamani didn’t raise any objection to the prayers by the prosecutors. The chief Magistrate issued a criminal summon requiring Benkya to appear in court without fail on January 11th, 2022, and subsequently remanded the constables to Kitalya prison until then.
On December 22nd, 2021, Byenkya petitioned the High Court to challenge the legality of her interdiction. On December 29th, 2021, Justice Musa Ssekaana’s granted her a temporary injunction halting her interdiction until her case is determined. Byenkya has since indicated that there are some notable politicians who want her out of office after grabbing public land and fear being exposed.
In 2020, the Auditor General’s report indicated that ULC did not have a land inventory and database for all government land and properties under its jurisdiction. The report also revealed that there was a liability of Shillings 9.4 billion, which isn’t backed by supporting documents and overstated compensation payables amounting to Shillings 15 billion among other flaws.