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Masaka Diocese sues family of dead priest over property

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By Wilson Kutamba

By Ambrose Musasizi

Masaka Diocese has sued the family of the late Rev Fr Francis Ssenkubuge Tikabakya over a property wrangle.

Rev Fr Tikabakya, who was one of the founders of Masaka Diocesan Development Organisation (MADDO), died on May 21, 1992.
The disputed properties are on Plot 24, Block 375 at Kigato Village in Masaka District and Plot 27, Block 167 at Kyato Village in Kalungu District.

Although the family claims that the priest acquired the properties in his individual capacity, the diocese insists that they are part of its estate.

The diocese resorted to court action  to recover the properties after attempts to resolve the dispute through negotiations failed.
According to court documents obtained by Daily Monitor, the Registered Trustees of Masaka Diocese through their lawyers sued Mr Matia Mulumba, the caretaker and administrator of the properties, the commissioner land registration, Mr Martin Africa Tumwesigye, and Mr Herbert Mukasa-both relatives of the deceased.

The diocese, which accuses them of   fraud,  is now seeking cancellation of the land titles, declaration of ownership of the said land to the plaintiff,  permanent injunction, and damages and suit costs.

 Court documents further indicate that Rev Fr Tikabakya made several payments, receipts, notes and acknowledgement in regard to the said pieces of land and made compensations to the occupants on behalf of the diocese.

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“Upon purchase of the said properties in 1990, the plaintiff  took possession of the  said land and started developing it to help in the running of the MADDO project, a school, forest, sugar cane plants, among others,” the document reads in part.

Court documents from the diocese lawyers also note that many Church members used to buy  property  on behalf of the diocese then and would hold it in its trust, though could later transfer it to the name of the diocese. 

But Fr Tikabakya died before transferring or signing transfer forms to the institution.
However, his family argues that after his demise, Mr Mulumba applied for and obtained letters of administration to his estate and the same was granted to him on October 23, 2014. 

“The late Fr Tikabakya also left behind a vast estate comprising a number of properties, including ,but not limited to land comprised in Buddu Block 167  Plot 27  and Kyato Block 375 Plot 24 who took actual and effective occupation of the suit land since 1990s to date,”  court documents read in part.

The family also claims that the priest is  survived by  several biological children.
The defence lawyers want court to dismiss with costs to the caveats lodged on suit land with no protectable interests be vacated.

Mr Martin Africa Tumwesigye, who claims to be one of the late Rev Fr Tikabakya’s sons, said they have been using the two pieces of lands since the early 1990s, adding that the diocese  had never come out to claim ownership.

“We are wondering why the diocese, which should be protecting us, is instead evicting us, the diocese is aware that the properties belonged to our biological father,” he said.
Mr Tumwesigye said although the diocese has used court to seek justice, its agents have gone ahead to evict them illegally without any court order thus destroying their property.

On eviction claims
Mr Sam Ssekyewa, the family’s lawyer, advised the diocese not to threaten the family with eviction, but wait for the court verdict.
“It is the diocese that dragged the family to court and the process is on. Why are they rushing to evict those occupying the land ?” he asked.
However, Rev Fr Deus Luyimbazi, the diocese estates manager, denied evicting the family. 
“Those matters are before court and we are waiting to hear its pronouncement on the matter, but the diocese is not evicting any one now,” he said.

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