Jinja, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Pastor Daniel Muwanga, who serves at the Rock Base Church in Jinja City, has been found guilty of committing forgery and uttering false documents. This verdict comes after Lady Justice Winifred Nabisinde presided over the case and imposed a fine of Shs 2 million on Muwanga.
The charges against Muwanga date back to 2020 when he was accused of forging documents related to a 3.5-acre piece of land that he allegedly took from his close acquaintance, Reverend Canon Charles Irongo, who serves as the deacon of Kyando Parish in Mayuge district.
This disputed land is situated in Kyamagwa Cell within Jinja City’s Northern Division. The backstory to this case is rooted in Irongo’s request for financial aid from Muwanga in 2018, where he provided the land title of his farmland as collateral.
By December 2018, Irongo had repaid the borrowed sum of money. However, Muwanga declined to return the land title to Irongo, sparking a series of unsuccessful family meetings. In 2019, local authorities informed Irongo that individuals involved in land transactions were inspecting the land with the intention of resurveying it for potential sale.
Officials from the Jinja District Land Board later conveyed to Irongo that Muwanga had transferred the land title to his own name and was actively seeking a buyer for Shs 226 million. Irongo took the matter to the Jinja Central Police Station in 2020, lodging criminal complaints that included forgery, uttering false documents, and trespass.
The case was subsequently investigated and taken up by the state attorney. Initially, Muwanga had been acquitted due to insufficient evidence, which prompted Irongo to challenge the court’s ruling.
Muwanga’s conviction followed an appeal filed by the state attorney in the Jinja High Court after his initial acquittal by a grade one magistrate in 2021. In her judgment, Nabisinde emphasized that Muwanga had betrayed the essence of friendship by forging Irongo’s signature to wrongfully take possession of his property.
Nabisinde pointed out that Muwanga had taken advantage of Irongo’s trust by forging his signature and transferring the land title without detection. She also raised concerns about Irongo’s naivety in readily offering his land title certificate to Muwanga, thereby providing him with the opportunity to manipulate the situation.
During the sentencing, Muwanga’s defense lawyer, Jacob Osillo, requested a lenient sentence, citing his client’s status as a first-time offender and his ongoing struggle with hypertension, which requires medical attention unavailable in prison. Consequently, Nabisinde imposed a fine of Shs 1 million for each count as an alternative to a custodial sentence. If Muwanga fails to pay the fine, he faces a two-year imprisonment term at Kirinya Prison.
Irongo has also taken legal action by filing a civil suit against Muwanga for his continued occupation of the disputed land. The civil suit is currently awaiting a hearing in the Jinja High Court.