Sylvia Owori’s Alleged Land Brouhaha with Tororo Families Raises Eyebrows
Renowned fashion designer and political influencer Sylvia Damalie Owori, also Deputy Director of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), has found herself in a curious twist of land disputes with over 15 families in Tororo municipality.
The families are pointing fingers at Owori, accusing her of leaning on her security connections with Gen Salim Saleh in an alleged bid to relocate them from their lands. The disputed area, spanning 6.5 acres, is situated on plot 8B along Busia road, next to Agururu primary school in Agururu B village. Local journalist Juma Seyyid Nyero, who resides on part of the contested land, claims Owori’s involvement started around 2017, asserting the land was her late father’s, George William Owori, who supposedly acquired it in 1976.
“While this land is steeped in tradition, we put in our hard-earned money to secure it. We went through surveys, got land titles, and developed it. Owori popped in from time to time, but things never went beyond that. Suddenly, she’s dead set on snatching our land,” shared Nyero.
Nyero went on to say that Owori orchestrated a meeting with local leaders, claiming it was about security but swiftly shifting to the land dispute. Suspicion grew when unfamiliar faces showed up in the meeting.
“We suspect they aimed to cook up meeting minutes to craft a plan for land takeover. This isn’t the first shot. Back in 2022, Owori attempted to transform the land’s status from customary to freehold, only to get the cold shoulder from the local land committee,” Nyero added.
Independent verification of these claims remains elusive as the alleged committee members couldn’t be found for an interview by the time of this report. When confronted, Owori flatly denied any land-grabbing antics. She insisted she’s merely reclaiming her family estate that belonged to her late father. She revealed her father acquired the land back in 1976, but tragedy struck in 1980 when he was killed due to another land-related dispute.
“My dad got hold of this land in ’76, a solid 6.5 acres. Then ’80 rolls in, and he’s gone, murdered. We had to flee. I’ve been hiding in Kampala, maybe you’ve heard about me. I never breathed a word about my origins due to the fear of being tracked. Yes, I was a public face, but I kept mum about my roots. Only five years ago, I dared to return, and there it was, the land vacant, barren. So off I went to the district, hunted down my father’s files, right there,” Owori explained.
The fashionista extraordinaire and political lobbyist asserted that over four decades, various people had their hands in the land without legitimate claims. She mentioned recent years saw encroachers erect illegal structures and nab fraudulent land titles for plots 143-146 on Busia road and plots 28-30 on Kaytandi road.
“As soon as they got wind of my return, everyone started selling like wildfire. Even the so-called investor swooped in and bought a piece. Before he could even plaster the walls, I was at his doorstep, telling him ‘Hold on, this is my turf.’ He stammers, ‘Oops, they sold it to me.’ I told him, ‘Pause, investigate. And oh yeah, get your money back from those folks.’ Now, I’m not out there, I’m in Kampala, but each time I visited, bam! More buildings. I approached them, hit the district, even the RDC. Yet, now that I’m back, the auction is on. All this hullabaloo in the last five years,” Owori stated.
Fingers were pointed at local investor Miteshi Doshi, who’s snagged a chunk of the disputed property. Allegations swirled that he cleverly misled others and hustled construction amid tight security.
In her pursuit of “justice,” Owori penned numerous letters to the Ministry of Land and Tororo district officials, pouring out her grievances against the alleged encroachers. She urged them to hop in and untangle the mess for a peaceful resolution.
“In light of all this, I’m sending you this letter to air my grievances and beseech your respected office to plunge into the chaos, sort it out, and make things kosher,” one of the letters directed at the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Lands said.
Based on these letters, the district’s resident commissioner called the disputing parties to a pow-wow to hash things out. Yet, the supposed encroacher gave the cold shoulder to the mediation offer.
In a separate tête-à-tête, Miteshi waved off Owori’s story, wondering why she just noticed her land after four decades. He went on to claim the property traded hands multiple times before he took the reins. He also suggested that Owori is capitalizing on her influential government connections to nab his land unfairly.
He went further, alleging that she’s playing the “Muyindi” (Indian) card to rake in sympathy from the locals.
“I’m Ugandan through and through, with roots here. My family’s history runs deep in this soil. She knows this too well; her dad was my teacher. She’s cooking up the ‘Muyindi’ narrative to twist things with the authorities. I won’t let that ride,” Miteshi asserted.
While both sides sing about ownership, neither has rolled out concrete evidence to back their tales on this disputed treasure. Owori confessed she didn’t have the ownership docs on hand. Miteshi, for his part, cited a personal emergency tied to his wife’s health that kept him from the necessary papers.
Nonetheless, he pledged to unveil the ownership proof when the time is ripe. He also threw down the gauntlet, daring Owori to show any paperwork linking her to the land.
Nixon Owere, Tororo’s resident district commissioner, recounted his attempt to steer the conflicting parties toward reconciliation through mediation. Yet, some players rejected the olive branch, suggesting Owori should dance the legal tango.
“I got a formal cry for help and tried to get them talking. This case is like no other, and I was eager to scrutinize the ownership evidence if mediation took flight. Unfortunately, mediation hit the wall due to some issues. At this point, the truth is on the ropes. With both camps lawyering up, the courtroom’s the arena for the truth to step into the light,” Owere stated.
Evelyn Nyachwo, LC I chairperson of Agururu B2, a seasoned dweller in the region living adjacent to the contested area, jumped into the fray. She shone light on the disputed land’s ownership twists. Nyachwo affirmed that Sylvia Owori’s father indeed put in an application for the land via the local land committee, which granted approval.
But there’s a twist: the land was on a renewable lease from the start. However, renewals went MIA, and the ownership ball started rolling.
“Pops had farmland, popped by the council, applied for farmland. True, he did, name’s right there, all for some renewable farmland. Maybe she’s got papers, who knows? But from when she got involved, no paper parade. There was another chap, Hussien Mwangu, applied and got his mitts on the place. Hussien even got a title for it, yeah. That plot was there, just bushes, they whisper ‘It’s Dr. Okuna’s.’ Now, Dr. Okuna, resident of Tororo, roots in Lubongi. When Hussien faced bank blues, he turned to Okuna, ‘Can you buy this?’ And so, Dr. Okuna did, title and all,” Nyachwo elaborated.
Beside the tiff over the 6.5-acre plot, Owori also finds herself in hot water over a different land battle involving 100 acres in Nyakesi “E” village within Nyagole sub-county, Tororo district. Owori, however, insists the land was her granddad’s and then transferred to her dad’s hands.
“In the past years, I’ve tried negotiating with folks waving ownership flags. Many were up for a cash compromise. Thanks to these talks, I’ve snagged 30 acres out of the 100,” she admitted.