UMSC Properties – More Rot Exposed

In the last part of the three-part series, The Observer continues to report on the 60-page report on the wrangles in the Muslim community.

In its recommendations contained in Chapter four, the report proposes that besides the government compensating the Muslims for the lost properties, the implicated UMSC leaders should be made to account for their administrative wrongs.

The committee established that all properties of UMSC that were said to have been “subleased” to HAKS LTD (HASSAN BASAJABALABA) were done so for the consideration of the construction of the PERIMETER SHOPPING MALL FOR THE UMSC AT OLD KAMPALA.

However, the UMSC never received any consideration for the eventual (sale) and or transfer of ownership of these properties, namely Plot 30, and 102 William street, Kampala, and Plots 12-16, Old Port Bell road, Luzira.

The controversy over the status of the above four properties is compounded by the fact that while the original agreement (MOU) was for leasing them to HAKS Express Ltd in exchange for the construction of the perimeter shopping mall mentioned above, the costs that HAKS Express Ltd was allowed to incur were neither limited nor were they to be verified by [UMSC] or a third party.

In his presentation to the committee, Hassan Bassajjabala claimed that these costs had so far accumulated to Shs 1.6bn, and they are still growing. This is a potential area of further conflict between UMSC and HAKS Express Ltd.

e) Sublease of the Perimeter Shopping Mall at Old KIa

During the work of the committee, it came across an agreement dated September 14, 2005, in which it was agreed, among others, that the UMSC had subleased the Commercial Shopping mall built by HAKS Ltd to a company called the Bright Engineering Services Ltd for a period of 12 years with effect from August 1, 2006.

In consideration of the said sublease, the sub-lessee (Bright Engineering Services Ltd) is to collect rent from the premises and shall transmit 60 per cent thereof to the sub-lessor (UMSC) and shall use the remaining 40 per cent to take over and complete at its own cost and expense the second floor on the perimeter shopping mall, which HAKS Express Ltd constructed.

The committee notes with concern a clause in the agreement which states that “the original title deed of property shall be surrendered to an appointed bank for safe custody and the sub lessor, (UMSC) shall not withdraw the same until after the expiry of the agreement or with the consent of the sub lessee (Bright Engineering Services Ltd).

The said agreement was signed by the Secretary General Dr Kasenene, H.E the Mufti Sheikh Shaban Mubajje, the late Deputy Mufti [Twaibu] Mukuye, the former Chairman of the Council Hajji Muhammad Ali Adrama and the former Deputy Chairman Hajj Basajjabalaba on behalf of the UMSC on the one hand, and one of the directors of Bright Engineering Services Ltd on the other.

This agreement is not backed by a minute of the Executive committee as required by the UMSC Constitution section (Article 10(9)(d).

During his appearance before the Committee, Hassan Basajjabalaba was asked who constructed the second floor on top of the perimeter shopping mall, which his company, HAKS Express Ltd, had constructed. In response, he referred the committee to Dr Kasenene who promptly answered that it was Hajji Hassan Basajjabala who had constructed the second floor on top of the perimeter shopping mall, built by HAKS Express Ltd.

Indeed, one of the directors of HAKS LTD signed as a director of Bright Engineering Services Ltd. It is important to note, however, that the key leaders at UMSC including the Mufti, Sheikh Shaban Mubajje, do not accept that such an agreement exists, or that if it does, it was ever implemented at all.

This is in spite of what Dr Kasenene told the committee about the construction of the second floor which is mentioned in the agreement between UMSC and Bright Engineers Services Ltd, and the physical evidence of the constructed second floor on the perimeter shopping mall. It is also vital to note that the said second floor was part of the perimeter shopping mall already agreed to be constructed by HAKS Express Ltd as consideration for the leases and subleases granted under the MOU.

4.0 Conclusions and Recommendations:

These are divided into specific, (in line with the thematic areas in the terms of reference), and general ones (those that the committee found necessary to pronounce itself upon because of their importance to the Muslim community).

The committee’s most important finding is that the Muslims of Uganda aspire for unity and would like to be under the UMSC as their home, identity and umbrella

organization. Recognizing this aspiration for unity, the committee makes recommendations that are intended to enhance that unity, tranquility, harmony, peace, and hence development among the Muslim community, and to build and uphold institutions.

4.1.2.5 Property wrangles:

The committee concludes that the way property has been managed since 2003 is the cause of the present wrangles. It is equally evident that the property in question was inappropriately managed, forming cause for disgruntlement and hence the wrangles.

The commissions, omissions and careless designs by the top leadership of the Council (The mufti, Sheikh Shaban Mubaje, the former chairman, Hajji Muhammad Ali Adrama, the secretary general, Dr Edris Kasenene, and the deputy chairman and later chairman, Hajji Hassan Basajjabalaba) were fertile ground for wrangles between the key players in the organization, as well as within the larger Muslim community.

It is difficult not to conclude that all these designs were meant to benefit certain individuals at the expense of the Muslim community.

Findings of the committee on legalroperty wrangles:

In all the transactions above mentioned, the UMSC was neither represented by a lawyer, valuers, surveyor or quantity surveyor to safeguard its legal interests or to determine the values of the property involved respectively. Documents were either drawn by HAKS Express Ltd or Bright Engineering Services Ltd. Where there was a lawyer heshe represented the two companies or Hassan Basajjabalaba.

The properties that were exchanged for the construction of the perimeter commercial building were never valued, nor were those that were constructed for UMSC quantified.

Except in the case of properties comprised in plots 12-16 Old Port Bell road, Luzira and the unmeasured plot carved out of plot 23-25, Old KIa road, the memorandum of understanding of 18th March 2005 is evidence that the purported ownership acquired by HAKS Express Ltd over the William Street mosque, plot 102 William Street, and plots 12-16 Old Port Bell road was a hoax because the said properties had already been transferred and allegedly sold to HAKS Express Ltd.

Therefore, there is no way UMSC could sublease what wasn’t its own property. The only logical conclusion is that these properties still belong to the UMSC.

The variation deed which purported to cause the transfer of leases of plots 30 and 102 William street, plots 12-16 Old Port Bell road and a plot (of unspecified measurements) of Old Kampala Plot 23-25 should not affect the ownership of the UMSC over these properties because plot 30 and 102 William street had already been transferred in the names of HAKS Express Ltd.

Therefore, this later deed is confirmation that the earlier transfers were indeed a hoax. Otherwise, why vary the MOU to allow transfer of ownership if the earlier transfers were lawful and proper? The variation deed lacked the backing of a resolutionminute by the executive committee of the UMSC at the time of transfer as required by the UMSC Constitution.

Further, all the above transactions violated the High court order in HCCS 353 of 2004 which ordered, among other things, that ” … there shall be no sale, disposal

or mortgage of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council properties without the unanimous resolution of the executive committee … ” There were glaring administrative mistakes that must be accounted for by those involved in order to bring this conundrum to an end.

The act of bypassing, neglecting or ignoring the laid-down procedures in the UMSC Constitution was the main cause of these anomalies leading to conflictsdisputes both in the Muslim community and in the UMSC as an organisation.

The order of the Mufti Sheikh Shaban Mubajje to lodge a caveat on what he called “the properties of the council” on the 4th July, 2005 was redundant because he, the Mufti, was fully aware that he had already signed the instruments transferring plots 30 and 102 into the names of HAKS L TD way back in January and March 2005,while the “undated variation deed” executed by Dr Kasenene and HAKS LTD soon after the 18th March 2005 MOU was intended to wrongfully alter the sub lease status of plots 12-16 Old Port Bell road as much as that of the plot of unspecified measurements meant to be carved out of Plot 23-25, Old KIa road, the UMSC headquarters.

The above cannot be relied on by HAKS Express Ltd to claim that UMSC duly sold and transferred its properties to it. Indeed, Hajji Hassan Basajjabalaba in his police statement on the matter confirms that HAKS Express Ltd has never bought the said properties but only subleased them.

Recommendations (Property wrangles):

While the committee hoped that it would arbitrate in the matter of property dealings impropriety as per its TOR, its attempts were hampered, by the following

The complexity of the issues relating to the properties in question, which were of a more legaltechnical state.

The time which was available to the committee was inadequate for such a complex exercise.

The lack of cooperation from the principal actors.

It is for the above reasons that the committee recommends as follows

A special judicial tribunal be put in place in the shortest time possible immediately after the presentation of this report. The special tribunal so set up should study the facts relating to the way the properties where handled as exposed by this report and seek more evidence that is available and come up with a solution that protects the economic and legal interests of the Muslim community in Uganda and its mother organization, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.

In so doing it should undertake the following

i. Examine and determine the legality of the sublease, sale and transfer of Plots 30 and 102 William street to HAKS Express ltd

ii. Examine the legality of subleasing sale and transfer of Plots 12-16, Old Port Bell road, Luzira to HAKS L TD over an existing sublease to Ms Makai

iii. Examine the dealings relating to Plot 23-25 Old Kampala including the legality of the sub lease agreement between the UMSC and Bright Engineering Services on Plot 23-25

iv. Review the memorandum of understanding of March 18, 2005 vis-a-vis the earlier transfer instrumentsdealings and the undated variation deed with a view of determining the legality and the authenticity of all of them

v. All properties involved in these transactions, i.e., properties that were said to have been exchanged for the construction of the perimeter shopping mall at

Old Kampala, including the value of the unmeasured land at Old Kampala, be valued and their value compared with the value of the construction of the perimeter shopping mall constructed by HAKS Express Ltd.

This should help to determine their monetary value, establish and determine who owes who, how much, if at all, so as to solve this conflictdispute between UMSC and HAKS Ltd conclusively once and for all.

vi. Review the properties of the Muslim Sunni Association with a view of determining the legality and basis of the leasing, subleasing, and or dispositiontransfer of the following

– Free hold register volume 664 Folio 17(Formerly Leasehold Register Volume 58 folio 15), Plot 88, South street, Kampala

– Plots 17 A, 17 E, 17C, Entebbe road

– Leasehold Register Volume 445 Folio 1, at Mengo, Kampala

– Leasehold Register Volume 292 Folio 11, Plot 45, Rashid Khamis road, Kampala

– Leasehold Register Volume 249 Folio 10 Plot 47, Rashid Khamis road, Kampala

– Leasehold Register Volume 63 Folio 11 Plot 49, Rashid Khamis road, Kampala

– Freehold Register Volume 698 Folio 22 (Formerly Leasehold Register Volume

465 Folio 20), Plot 51 Rashid Khamis road, Kampala

– Leasehold Register Volume 573 Folio 19 Plot 8, and 3-5 Hesketh Bell Road and Archer road, Kampala and

– Leasehold Register Volume 2380 Folio 24 Plot 6, Martin road, Kampala

– Muslim Sports club, Plot 2-6 and 8, Nsambya road, (near Clock Tower).

Recommendation:

The committee recommends that the tribunal completes its work in two months. It is evidently clear that UMSC property wrangles are at the core of the current divisions within the Muslim community.

The above recommendation on the establishment of a special judicial tribunal notwithstanding, a lasting and sustainable resolution of this division would be for

His Excellency the President in his magnanimity, and in the interest of security, public tranquility and good order make good the loss of land and property of the Muslim community of Uganda.

In particular it is recommended that government should do the following

Compensate Drake Lubega for Plot 30 William Street as earlier on pledged by HE the president in 2011.

Return Kololo High School (Plot 102 William street)

Return the Uganda Brushware manufacturers factory (Plot 12-16 Old Port Bell road, Luzira)

Return the Muslim Sunni properties as listed (above) and land taken in the ranch restructuring exercise which include

– Migyera ranch where government took 10 miles of the 12 square miles, Kiryandongo ranch, Masaka ranch and Sembabule ranch as detailed out in this report.

The UMSC Property Trust The committee notes that there is no central body that holds the properties of the Muslims of Uganda. The property is variously held and this has been a source of loss and abuse of such property and hence conflictsdisputes. The UMSC has no inventory of its assets and yet many individuals have transferred Muslim property into its names for custodyin trust.

Recommendation:

The committee recommends that a central body, to be known as “UMSC Property Trust”, managed by Muslims of impeccable character and trustworthiness, be

immediately established to hold all Muslim property in trust.

This trust will operate independent of the UMSC by law. Donors of property should be encouraged to transfer the ownership of the property they are donating into the names of this trust. It is hoped that this will put an end to fraudulent property transaction that leave the Muslim community interests in jeopardy.

Source : The Observer

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