By Ivan Mwine
The Parliament of Uganda has summoned the head pastor of Phaneroo Ministries to explain his interest in a huge chunk of land in the Nakawa-Naguru estate, which he claims to have secured a few years ago.
Apostle Grace Lubega was Thursday summoned by Parliament’s Adhoc Committee on Nakawa-Naguru Land to explain how he acquired the land, whom he bought it from and at how much.
It is said that Lubega plans to construct a church and headquarters on Phaneroo Ministries at the said land he acquired in Naguru.
The summons came after Lubega skipped Thursday’s proceedings on grounds that he had a service to preside over.
His summons come at a time when Parliament is investigating circumstances under which chunks of land comprised in the Nakawa-Naguru were parceled and taken by several businessmen and pastors in town, without the consent of the government.
It should be noted that the Committee interacted with some of the companies and individuals of interest, on Thursday, 21 April 2022, including Anil Damani, a private investor.
Damani told the Committee chaired by Hon. Dan Atwijukiire, that he acquired three acres of land in Naguru, an upscale Kampala city suburb to establish residential houses.
“The initial application was for five acres but we were informed that there were many other applicants and therefore, they reduced them to three acres – which is why our building plan was for three acres,” he said.
He said he learnt of the notice by the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) for sale of the land through his lawyers.
Damani said that in an interface with ULC, he submitted a concept plan, tax clearance certificate and proof of funds to show capability of purchasing the land and developing it.
“They told us that they did not want briefcase companies. I gave them a letter from Standard Chartered Bank showing the amount of funds I had already deposited to start the project,” said Damani.
He added that final set of costing for the project he applied for, was estimated at US$3.4 million (Shs10 billion).
“I had deposited Shs7 billion into a fixed deposit account at Standard Chartered Bank and furnished the Uganda Land Commission with certificates of deposit confirmation from the bank. This was to convince them that I was capable of taking on the project,” Damani explained.
The Committee was however not satisfied with Damani and his lawyers’ explanation, noting that the only notice by ULC was to companies and individuals who had already expressed interest in buying the land, on which requirements to present.
Hon. Sarah Opendi (NRM, Tororo District) presented a letter to the committee which said was allegedly written and signed by Damani on 27 September 2019.
“It was addressed to the President through then State Minister for Lands, Hon. Persis Namuganza, requesting for five acres of land at Naguru,” said Opendi.
She presented another letter she said was written by Namuganza to the Chairperson Uganda Land Commission, directing that Damani be given five acres to construct affordable condominium units.
Damani, however, disowned the letter saying the signature thereon was not his and that he had not held any meeting with Namuganza.
The impasse prompted the Committee chairperson to fault Damani’s lawyers for uttering information to the Committee without documented proof.
He tasked them to return with documented evidence of the process through which the land was acquired.
Asked about the amount of money he paid for the three acres of land, Damani told MPs that he paid about Shs1.001 billion and revealed that his title was processed within a week after the payment, something that raised a lot of queries amongst the legislators on the Committee.