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UGANDA: Nantaba sued for Shs120m over land



RIIS Coffee Limited has now sued State Minister for Lands Ida Nantaba, accusing her of trespass, looting, vandalism and destruction of private property.

The company which has been involved in a running battle with squatters said to be backed by Ms Nantaba over a large tract of land in Buikwe District wants court to order the recently-appointed junior minister to pay more than Shs100 million in compensation.

Court documents obtained by this newspaper indicate that Ms Nantaba is accused of allegedly handing out portions of the coffee farm and leading a riotous mob of squatters to invade the property. Ms Nantaba is also said to have overseen the destruction and theft of the farm’s property between November 19 and 20.

When contacted for comment, Ms Nantaba, who expressed dissatisfaction at this newspaper, said she was only doing her job, defending the voiceless. “How would you feel if a 90-year-old is deprived of her land? You are not being fair. We, who are defending the voiceless, are being treated like thieves,” Ms Nantaba said yesterday. “We, the young people, have come to restore sanity to the NRM government. Do not destroy our morale,” she added.

Four Danish investors Trine Riis Jensen, Svend Kaare Jensen, Kristen Hoiler and Per Michael Hoiler, who jointly own RIIS Coffee, however, accuse the junior minister of various misdeeds and want court to compel her to pay more than Shs123 million in damages and costs of the suit.

MB Gimara Advocates, the firm’s counsel, has also filed for a restraining order prohibiting Ms Nantaba, her agents, employees or any person under her control from entering RIIS Coffee Limited property located at Buleega in Buikwe District.

Remaining time

Ms Nantaba now has 15 days, from December 3, to file her defence to the Jinja High Court, having been sued in her own capacity. It is not yet clear whether the suit will affect the Lands Ministry. Claiming villagers had been cheated by the Danish investors, the minister reportedly dished out farmland to between 10 and 12 tenant households who have been at loggerheads with the company management.

The company attests it has signed contracts with the squatters who were compensated to vacate the property but have since returned under the influence of a local politician. Documents obtained by this newspaper indicate the squatters were paid between Shs700,000 and Shs7 million, depending on the expanse of land they were using. The minister had earlier halted their eviction only to later dish out the property.

Source: Daily Monitor (06/12/2012): http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Nantaba-sued-for-Shs120m-over-land/-/688334/1637398/-/6wj56nz/-/index.html

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