Lawyers Petition Constitutional Court Challenging Compulsory Land Acquisition

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A group of lawyers have petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging the actions of government to compulsorily acquire land from its citizens anywhere across the country to put up public utility  projects.  

The lawyers, namely Daniel Omara and two civil society organizations namely; Advocates for Natural Resources and Development -ANARDE and Resources Rights Africa Limited have sued the Attorney General and the Uganda National Roads Authority as the respondents.

  The Advocates contend that the practice to take people’s land compulsorily deprives citizens of their right to own property and protection from deprivation of their property without adequate and fair compensation as provided for under the law.

  The government has always relied on the Land Acquisition Act of 1965 to compulsorily acquire land and put up public utility projects such as roads, schools, hospitals and most recently in Hoima and Bullisa districts where the government is about to start the oil and gas pipeline project. The government has also been evaluating that land it intends to acquire through its Valuer who carries out inspections in order to help and  determine the current market value of that land such that the owner gets compensated with that amount.

  But if someone is not satisfied with the award and refuses to accept payments, the same law provides that the High Court on an application of the Attorney General, may order payment to be made into court on such conditions as it thinks appropriate. 

However, according to the petitioners, that law on top of being too old, is in contravention of national objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the 1995 Constitution which provides for adequate compensation. 

  The petitioners through their lawyers of Frank Tumusiime and Company Advocates also argue that under the Land Acquisition Act, the citizens have no bargain for their rights and property which is illegal.   

They now want court to declare that section six, clause five of the Land Acquisition Act is inconsistent with the constitution and that the actions of government to apply and seek orders to deposit in court compensation sums for lands compulsorily acquired while relying on the said land law is illegal.

In March, 2021 businessman John Mugisha sued UNRA in the High Court for undervaluing his property which was affected by the Kira-Matugga road project in Namugongo along the Kasangati road.

Mugisha argued that his land was undervalued by the government Valuer at 2.8 billion shillings and he demanded that court compels UNRA to pay him an additional 2.1 billion shillings since his private Valuer revealed that the property was worth 4.6 billion shillings.

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