Tooro Queen Mother, Best Kemigisa, has Monday appeared before the land commission chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire to defend herself against the alleged land fraud accusations.
According to last week’s summons, upon the death of former King of Tooro, Patrick Mathew Olimi Kaboyo III, in August 1995, Kemigisa fraudulently acquired letters of administration with three other people which she used to administer the estate of the family.
Prince Araali Patrick Kasagama accuses Kemigisa of selling hectares of their family land at Kijuma, Burasya County in Kabarole District.
She allegedly sold to government in 2004 properties worth Shs4.5bn without consulting the royal family.
On March 7, a group of Tooro royal family members led by Prince Gilbert Atwooki Mujogya testified that Kemigisa acquired letters of administration as a sole administrator of the estate in 1999 which formed basis for the transfer of the land into her names and subsequent sale.
In another complaint, Tooro elders under their umbrella body, Isaazi Ly’ Abantu Bakuru Ba Tooro from Tooro led by the Fort Portal Municipality MP, Mr Alex Ruhunda, asked the Commission to halt all cases of extra-legal evictions and land grabbing.
Kemigisa defends herself
“We are talking about the land which I inherited from husband for me and my children,” she told the commission of inquiry on Monday.
Kemigisa said some members of Tooro kingdom said she was evicting people but she has never evicted people.
“I have never touched and don’t have any right over the kingdom’s land. I sold off 13 parcels of land to Government and only two were returned, this is so because the two had not been surveyed.”
Squatters are squatters, all types of people are squatters, she replied when asked why she called the occupants of Tooro Kingdom Land Squatters.
“The land I changed from my husband’s name belongs to me and my children. This was Patrick Kaboyo’s estate and I’m the wife to Kaboyo,” she explained.
Kemigisa said even in Kitumba where she has a palace, there are burial sites of the royals and the land belongs to her and her children.
It is alleged Queen Kemigisa sold over 16.5 square miles of land belonging to the royal family to Government without the approval from the Kingdom officials.
“My brothers in-law, claimed my late husband had no land entitled to him, they claimed he only owned a shirt and a sweater, I went to court, I had to fight for my children’s land,” she answered the allegation.
She added: “They claimed my husband had nothing but a shirt and a sweater yet he was the heir, this is my land, my children’s land.”
The queen said she was not surprised by those allegations and that she went to court because the people who didn’t want her to get her late husband’s land are her sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law.
“In Tooro Kingdom customary is anything, it is not true that my husband’s land was customary.”
She went on: “My Lord, if you see the land titles I have, they were changed to my husband’s names in 1967 and they changed to my names in 1997. My in-laws have been tarnishing my name in papers, Internet, everywhere, My Lord I need your protection.”
She said her brothers-in-law hated her husband being a King, a hatred they inherited up to now.
“I don’t know why they are interested in my children’s land.”
Asked whether she still lives in the royal palace, Kemigisa told the commission: “I live in my own place – Kitumba. I built my own house.”
Lead counsel, Ebert Byenkya: Your husband died without a will, how did you know how much land he had?
Kemigisa: I found the titles, we were living as husband and wife, he told me and showed me all that.
Byenkya: How did you find the titles?