Senior City Lawyer’s Property Grabbing Scheme Exposed In Kololo Land

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The 41-years property grabbing scheme in which a city lawyer Yesero Mugenyi allegedly denied family members access is in its final stage of completion in the favour of the original proprietor, Abdu Nassar. Nassar, a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Presidency during Idd Amin’s regime and his family were embroiled in an unnecessary property wrangle as a city lawyer reportedly enjoyed all the rights and freedom of collecting millions of shillings monthly for many years. The house in question is located on Plot 27 Kololo Hill Drive comprised in LRV801 folio 24 and Nassar bought it from Ibrahim Kironde Kabanda in 1979.

According to the available agreements and payment plan documents between Mugenyi and various clients, it has for many years been rented by the Ethiopian Embassy and Medisell (U) Ltd.

Nasser’s property was grabbed in 1981when he went into exile after the fall of Amin’ government. Several unfounded criminal allegations were crafted against him during the Obote II regime to keep him away as people enjoyed money from his properties.

It was alleged by the lawyer that the then powerful Paul Muwanga who had property within the vicinity of Nassar’s house had interest in it so as to scare away the family members.

He returned to the country after 1986 when President Museveni overthrew the dictatorial regimes. He followed all the events that had unfolded in the fictitious transfers of his property and in 2005 he filed a High Court Civil suit 87/2005 in 2005 against the parties involved; Yesero Mugenyi, Timothy Kasantamu Musisi T/A Sekijoba Auctioneers Limited, Mugenyi & Co. Limited, Reuben Kanyoro Rwitabaro T/A Mayfair General Auctioneers Limited, Regina Kabatabazi and S & M Holdings Ltd to recover his property. Nassar has since won in two Courts of Appeal but as we write this the city lawyer has put in a third appeal (filed as application 415/2022) to block the trial process of the High Court as they also buy time to further deny the former civil servant access to his property. Mugenyi is 85 years old and Nassar is 89 and one wonders whether this matter will end while the litigants are still alive.

The property in contention

Ironically Mugenyi got to know about the property through the former exilee’s wife who sought for assistance from the lawyer hence a huge conflict of interest.

HOW IT STARTED

Abdu Nassar who had bought property in Kironde in 1979 shortly before the fall of the Amin government later abandoned his residence and fled into exile in Kenya.

While in exile he learnt that trespassers had occupied his residence and even looted his property. He contacted his wife, Mariam Nassar who was still in Uganda to look for a lawyer to assist and evict these unlawful tenants. Mariam was introduced to a senior lawyer, UK trained ballister Yeseru Mugenyi.

The lawyer accepted instructions in 1981 for a fee of Shs20,000 vide a cheque number 495027 dated May 26, 1981 drawn on Grindleys Bank, Ottoman Branch and asked for the original title of the property.

When the lady went back to follow up, Counsel Mugenyi told her that Paulo Muwanga’s soldiers went to his firm and told him to back off the matter since the man he was representing was a “wanted” man. She was warned never to waste her time to go back to the firm since she was premised to land the lawyer in trouble. However, the “empty threatening” lawyer did not release the original land title that was already in his custody.

In 1985, Nasser returned to the country for a month. During his stay here, he physically went to Mugenyi’s law firm to follow up the status of his instructions.

Mugenyi bluntly told him that he went through a lot with Muwanga’s soldiers who even shot at him and even showed him a scar on the shoulder claiming he had just recovered from a bullet wound. Nasser however independently established from the people that were cognizant with the lawyer’s day to day life that the scar was a result of a car accident that nearly put him out of action. He also claimed that out of the scuffle, the soldiers confiscated the title of the property since Muwanga had interest in it. Although this left Nasser speechless, Mugenyi also got sleepless nights since he had all along thought the man was on a “wanted” list and would never return from exile.

PLANNED TRANSFER SCHEME

After Nasser had been told openly to lose interest in the property, he went back abroad. The lawyer who had earlier barred Mariam from accessing his chambers embarked on a grand scheme of fraudulently transferring the property into his name. This was a process and was done in phases; Firstly, some fictitious documents of a non-existent court order of a case that was never heard emerged. The documents indicated that the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) had a case against Nasser and attached the property for sale.

Secondly, forged documents purporting that the DAPCB was paid an amount totaling Shs4,552,002 in order to stop the sale also surfaced. It was purported that a sum of Shs4,294,342 was paid by bank overdraft to Mulira & Co. Advocates to settle Nassar’s debt with The Departed Asian Property Custodian Board. All this was done without the knowledge and consent of Nasser, Counsel Mugenyi’s client.

It was further purported that Nassar was served by the way of substituted service in Munno newspaper and yet at the time in question, he was in exile in Kenya and Mombasa which is outside the jurisdiction of Uganda. It is further alleged that court issued an ex-parte judgement against Nassar yet he was not indebted to The Departed Asian Property Custodian Board, neither Timothy Kasantamu (auctioneer) nor Mugenyi & Co. Advocates.

Thirdly, there were also documents of another court case Civil Suit 177/1982 in which the lawyer used his own Law firm (Mugenyi & Co. Advocates) to sue his own client to recover the money he had paid to The Departed Asian property custodian board to stop a sale and purportedly got an order to force execution of the property for his client. However, on inquiring whether civil suit number 515/1980 (The Departed Asian Property Custodian Board vs Abdu Nassar) and Civil Suit 177/1982 (Mugenyi & Co. Advocates Vs Abdu Nassar), the then Deputy Registrar Civil Division Jamson Karemani wrote on July 08, 2022 and clarified that the above cases have not been found in any of the existing records and not even in the national archives.

Finally, a stage-managed auction in a one office using Reuben Kanyoro Rwitabaro of T/A Mayfair General Auctioneers Limited was executed and property was allegedly bought by a woman called Regina Kabatabazi (resident of the UK) vide instrument 212113 and the title was consequently transferred into her names on July 2, 1982.

However, using Mugenyi & Co. Advocates, a caveat was issued on the suit property under instrument number 237495 on November 8, 1988 an indication that the purported buyer was a proxy.

Meanwhile, Mugenyi remained the landlord of the property that was then rented by USAID and this is clearly indicated in the agreement and bank account payments. On January 22, 1997, Mugenyi transferred the property vide instrument number 285184 into his name from Regina Kabatabazi and the transfer was described as a gift and this marked the end game of fraudulent grand scheme. It should be not noted that throughout the said phases, the master planner was in full control of the property and on top of the whole game plan.From1997 – 2003, Mugenyi enjoyed his rights and freedom as a registered proprietor. It was not until 2003, when Nassar officially returned from exile that the property grabbing game was discovered.

Upon confronting him about the transfers of the property, Mugenyi quickly registered a company called S &M Holdings Limited into whose names the title was transferred on October 27, 2003 at a consideration of Shs100m vide instrument 338177.

The available and authentic documents reveal that from the time the property was sold to S & M Holdings Ltd, Mugenyi remained the landlord. He entered several agreements with various tenants as is clearly seen in the agreement with Ethiopian Embassy for 13 years and another company called Medisell (U) from 2009 -2016.

The rent for the property was at all material times paid through the accounts of his law firm; 9030003169232 and 0240007006801 all in Stanbic Bank (Hoima branch).

Court documents also indicate that S & M is a sham company which has never filed returns, never appointed directors and has no company secretary.

The company has no registered address apart from Mugenyi’s address of the law firm that was used as a postal address during registration.

The issue in court therefore is how could such a company buy property of this magnitude. The court papers also show that there was no consideration paid for that same house hence this drives one to a conclusion that Mugenyi still owns the house though it is concealed under S & M Holdings Limited.

The matter has so far lasted for 18 years in court and Mugenyi has since lost miserably twice in the Court of Appeal under Civil Appeal numbers 239/2015 and Civil application in the Court of Appeal 61/2020.

In the last Court of Appeal, Judgement by Kenneth Kakuru (RIP), it was meant to frustrate and block the trial of this case in the High Court. And the Judge ordered that the matter should be extra-judicially heard by the trial judge.

MUGENYI’S SIDE OF THE STORY

In a well-documented verbatim narrative, Mugenyi says; In 1988, I was approached by two women who both claimed to be Abdu Nassar’s wives. They said the complainant was in Entebbe and in hiding as he had been working for the State Research Bureau. They said their husband had sent them to find a lawyer to evict trespassers from their house in Kololo and if possible find them a genuine tenant. I told them to bring a certificate of title, one of them Mariam brought the title together with the Powers of Attorney. I went with the lady to the house and the tenants said the house had been given to them by the government. I had called a court broker to investigate the house. I gave him instructions to evict the tenants. Before the eviction could be carried out, a broker said he had a court warrant to attach the house and sell it under HCCS515/1980. I proceeded to court and found that a case had been filed against Abdu Nassar. Custodian board had sued him in respect of a claim against him. They had advertised and the house was up for sale. When Nassar’s wife came again, I gave her the advert and asked her to contact the husband and settle the matter. That woman never gave me her address as she declined to disclose where she stayed. I have never seen her again. I later met Abdu Nasser in 1986 physically. I told him the house had been sold and he demanded all the documents. He came as part of the NRA in Uniform and I gave him all the documents. He was not rude to me. He was nice. He said he was going to buy the house back. I promised to contact Regina Kabatabazi. Before I could see Regina, there was an investigation started on the complainant by the Director of CID related to murder of several people. I and Kabatabazi plus the court broker were told to go and record statements because of our part in the transfer of his house. Kabatabazi was in tears regretting why she had bought the house. I told her Abdu Nassar was interested in buying back the property. We were released on police bond. Since then Nassar disappeared. The next thing that followed is this court complaint, Since Kabatabazi was anxious to sell the house, I promised to contact Abdu Nassar so that the house is not sold to anyone else. When Kabatabazi came back and I had a house in the UK which I wanted to dispose of, we agreed on the exchange of the two houses. The house was transferred to my name in July 1997. In 1998, I decided to retire. In 2003, I sold the house to M & S Golding Limited. I only came to own the house as a bonafide owner.Mugenyi is a former chairman of Hoima Land Board. He recently won a case against the government and was paid a whopping Shs9bn after which he bought a Range Rover Model 2022 that he currently cruises in the dusty streets of Kampala and Hoima. He is the founding member of Mugenyi & Co. Advocates. His sons are city lawyers and he is also a dad to Justice Anne Bitature Mugenyi of the Commercial Division of the High Court. Efforts to talk to City Lawyer for a comment were futile by press time as his well known phones were not going through.

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