The Commission of Inquiry into land matters has given Pastor Samuel Kakande four days to halt his work in the vast Lwera wetland at Bukakata sub county in Masaka district.
The Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire led commission which was instituted by the President in December 2016 started investigating and inquiring into the effectiveness of the Law and Processes of land acquisition, land administration, land management and land registration in Uganda.
The Commission on Thursday visited Pastor Kakande’s 40 square miles of land found in Bukakata most of which lies in the vast Lwera wetland where he is carrying out rice farming.
While at the farm, the commission discovered that the man of God had greatly degraded the environment by digging deep streams which he uses as water reservoir and he had destroyed hundreds of acres of natural forests.
Pastor Kakande had acquired the vast land to plant palm trees and NEMA approved of his plan but he diverted into rice farming!
Pastor Kakande is one of the largest rice farmers in the country with farms in Masindi and Hoima Districts.
While at his land the commission also discovered that the Synagogue Church Senior Pastor employs underage boys most whom are aged as young as 15 years and take months without paying them.
While appearing before the commission at Brovad Hotel in Masaka on Friday afternoon, the calm Pastor told the commission that he is ready to give up his land title for cancellation if found that he acquired the land irregularly.
“If the law does not allow one to own a land title in wetland and if I am found that I acquired the land irregularly, I am ready to give up the titles for cancellation,” he said in a rather calm tone.
The Commission Chair Lady Justice Bamugemereire gave the Pastor up to Tuesday to furnish the probe team with all copies of the land titles he owns and the documentations under which he acquired the land. She also ordered him to take off the land the trucks, tractors and excavators which he uses to degrade the wetland.
He obliged to the directives.
The Pastor told the commission that he does not know how old he is because he does not know exactly when he was born.
He also noted that he cannot remember how much he bought each piece of the land he owns because he buys chunks of land every now and then.
The President set up the land probe due to the rampant land evictions and several complaints received from the public relating to land. These complaints, reported to numerous offices relate to land grabbing, delayed transactions and unfair treatment of genuine land owners, tenants and other land users.
The commission is expected to head to Gulu District where it will camp for a week.
By Isaac Baligema