Mpigi Magistrate Court in Uganda has ordered an Irish national, David Michael O’Connel, out of his house, 10 plots of land and a farm worth billions of shillings after he bought the properties in the names of his Ugandan fiancée but could not prove that he is the financier.
According to Daily Monitor, Chief Magistrate Ruth Nabaasa, in her judgement delivered on Friday, September 10, held that court would not go into the nitty gritties of whether the money that Ms Catherine Nakawooza used to acquire 10 plots land, 10 acres of farm land at Namayumba in Wakiso District and a house worth billions were financed by Mr O’Connel.
“Merely being the financier of a land transaction for which another person becomes registered as the proprietor is not one of the legally recognised exceptions to indefeasibility of title under the Registration of Titles Act,” Chief Magistrate Nabaasa held.
“It seems moot and academic for this court to venture into analysing whether indeed it is the respondent’s funds (Mr O’Connel) that paid for the petitioners’ lands (Ms Nakawooza). I am aware that the petitioner (Ms Nakawooza) contested the nexus between the documentary evidence adduced by the respondent to prove that he was the source of funds for the petitioner’s land transactions,” she added.
“Nonetheless, owing to my findings in issue 2, I am satisfied that the residential home of the petitioner (Ms Nakawooza) where she ordinarily resides with her three issues, rightful belongs to her. An order doth issue restraining the respondent (Mr O’Connel) from accessing this home without the petitioner’s prior permission,” Ms Nabaasa ruled.
Ms Nakawooza was represented by Mr Godfrey Rwalinda while Mr Mohammad Mbabazi was counsel for Mr O’Connel.
Court documents show that Mr O’Connel and Ms Nakawooza had a relationship starting around 2002.
The couple started staying together around the same time and later had three children. According to court records, Ms Nakawooza led evidence to show that she solemnised a customary marriage with Mr O’Connel on January 25, 2014 in Bweyogerere near Kampala.
She also led evidence to show that while they were cohabiting, she acquired a number of real estate properties, which she registered in her names and entrusted all the documents of title in the custody and care of Mr O’Connel.
Ms Nakawooza also led evidence that after their marriage, they acquired another property in Nansana comprising 11 self-contained rentals units whose particulars Mr O’Connel secretly kept from her.
However, in response, Mr O’Connel denied solemnising a traditional marriage with Ms Nakawooza.
He said the events of January 25, 2014, at Bweyogerere did not constitute a traditional marriage but just a visit to Ms Nakawooza’s mother to be known as the man who was dating their daughter and also a father of the three children.
Mr O’Connel also said since he was not a Ugandan, he was not allowed to purchase mailo land, hence buying it in Ms Nakawooza’s names.
“At the trial, the respondent (Mr O’Connel) presented a myriad of documents showing bank transfers and bills of exchange to prove that he was the actual source of funds that paid for the properties,” Mr O’Connel stated.
“He also averred that the understanding between him and the petitioner was that since he was a foreigner of Irish citizenship, who could not own mailo interests in land in Uganda, upon having herself registered as proprietor for several mailo properties, the petitioner would then execute peppercorn leases in his favour as lessee for each of the properties, would grant him powers of attorney to utilise and deal with each property as he deemed fit,” he added.
The Irish national also denied being a cruel father to his three children as alleged by Nakawooza.
Ms Nakawooza had in her law suit sought court’s order to annul their alleged marriage , an order restraining Mr O’Connel from accessing their matrimonial home and an order granting her custody of their children.
But court in its ruling held that no marriage existed between the two, hence there was nothing to dissolve.
However, the court agreed with Ms Nakawooza and granted her the custody of their three children on grounds that they are still young and need their mother’s care.
Mr O’Connel Sunday, September 12, said he was dissatisfied with the court decision, adding that he would appeal it within 14 days.
“When foreign investors such as myself are targeted for their assets here, the word is getting out and spreading fast and scaring away many more potential investors,” he said.
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