SHACU Promises Deeper Probe into Lira Land Fraud

Deputy Head of SH ACU Israel Ochwo
Deputy Head of SH ACU Israel Ochwo
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The State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) has declared that the recently exposed land fraud cases in Lira City are merely the surface, as they pledge to intensify investigations into more politicians and technocrats implicated in similar offenses. Addressing the media at Lira Hotel, Deputy Head of SHACU, Israel Ochwo, disclosed that the majority of these fraudulent activities are orchestrated by political figures and technocrats within Lira District and Lira City.

The unit, though facing resource constraints, has pressed charges against a total of 542 individuals nationwide since its inception in December 2018. Among these, 292 are civil servants, 251 private individuals, and 42 belong to security forces. With 126 cases still pending, 98 convictions have been secured, resulting in the recovery of shillings 51 billion.

Ochwo explained that their focus on Lira stemmed from politicians and technocrats facilitating land grabbing, exhibiting an unacceptable level of impunity. He emphasized their intolerance for abuse of public office, where individuals entrusted with power exploit it by fraudulently acquiring land, registering it under the names of relatives, and subsequently selling it to businessmen.

The investigation gained momentum in March 2022 when a district official was apprehended by the police, transporting crucial land files clandestinely. This incident prompted SHACU to intervene, discovering that the files were central to their ongoing investigations. Despite directives from the Attorney General and the local government minister, irregular land transactions continued within Lira District’s jurisdiction.

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SHACU has so far charged 22 individuals in court, securing four convictions, with additional cases pending. Ochwo acknowledged that some individuals voluntarily approached the unit, expressing a willingness to surrender land titles obtained through unscrupulous means. Offering amnesty, SHACU urged those with fraudulent titles to initiate the cancellation process through the Ministry of Lands.

Responding to allegations of selective investigations, Ochwo clarified that they follow a phased approach, presenting completed cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for further action. On claims that certain lands were sold as a council resolution, Ochwo asserted that an illegal resolution cannot stand without challenge.

Lira Resident City Commissioner, Lawrence Egole, commended SHACU’s efforts in restoring sanity to civil service delivery by combating corruption. He urged leaders to unite against corruption, warning that failure to curb corrupt practices endangers the nation’s moral fabric.

Ochwo expressed gratitude towards the media, recognizing their crucial role in the anti-corruption fight, stating that corrupt individuals fear media exposure more than legal repercussions. Detective SP Mohammed Sowede, head of investigation at SHACU, refrained from discussing ongoing cases in Lira, urging those with relevant information to come forward and assist the unit.

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