Jinja court fixes date for concluding “highlight” property saga
The Jinja court will conclude the case early next year.
Jinja, December 13, 2022: The High Court sitting in Jinja has adjourned until 11 January 2023 to make a pronouncement on a wrangle over a property situated on Plot 11 Iganga Road in Jinja City.
The huge dilapidated building with vegetation growing on it is without amenities like functional water and sewerage system and falling ceiling boards, among others. It is commonly known as “Highlight”.
The property in question has been before the court since 2014 between a group of five family members and the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board (DAPCB), each claiming ownership.
The five include Abubaker Manassar Saleh, Fatma Saleh Abdulla and Osman Saleh Abdulla, among others who reportedly bought the property from the original registered owners: Chamlal Yagnick, Kantilal and Nathwani through Gandehsa and Co Advocates who transferred the title certificate in 2002.
They are being represented by Shaban Nkutu of Dhakaba and Nkutu Company Advocates situated on Plot 32/34 Main Street in Jinja City.
The Attorney General (AG) on behalf of the defendant, DAPCB was represented by Hillary Nathan Ebila who requested more time, saying as the government want the matter settled out of the court.
“…my lord, we are in consultation with the client (DAPCB) to settle it out of court in the best way possible, we pray court grants us more time…,” Ebila said in their usual low-tone style before the bench.
The plaintiff’s counsel Nkutu did not raise any objection but expressed fear and faulted the AG and his client (DAPCB) for not being consistent as well as playing delaying tactics.
“…my lord my only problem is that we may adjourn multiple times and at the end of the day, the defendant (AG) will refuse to settle it out of court which will bring us back here,” Nkutu submitted.
This argument was informed by what happened in the past when the Executive Secretary DAPCB William Bizibu signed a consent on 5 December 2017 with the court but later made a U-turn in that he did not understand what he had appended his signature.
Accordingly, the presiding judge at the time Lady Justice Eva Luswata expunged the document from the court records.
We have established that the same Bizibu has again written a letter stating that the property in question does not belong to the government (DAPCB) as earlier presumed.
The letter which, we have obtained a copy was written on 8th December 2021 and addressed to the occupants of the building and copied to the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the Attorney General, the Deputy Registrar (High Court Jinja), the Divestiture Committee (DAPCB), Liaison Officer DAPCB and the owners led by Abubaker Saleh Abdullah and four others.
After hearing submissions from both parties, the Resident Judge Jinja Circuit Lady Justice Fardiah Shamillah Bukirwa fixed 11 January 2023 at 9:00 am as the date for the conclusion of the matter that has taken over 8 years.
The authorities in Jinja are concerned that such litigants which have become a fashion in the baby city that was once the East African industrial hub are frustrating developers and investors who want to add value to the city.