An elderly man Rusanganwa Nathan has been forced off his land by Nyagatare district mayor Mushabe David Claudian despite all court orders confirming the land in question belongs to Rusanganwa.
He got the 15 acre land as part of the land redistribution program in eastern Rwanda. Initially, he had 50 acres, but was required by a government commission led by Lt Gen Fred Ibingira, the Reserve Force Chief of Staff, to relinquish the rest and remain with 15 acres in 2009.
However, even with this remaining portion, Rusanganwa has been forced off the land last year. At the time, Mayor Mushabe reportedly came with police and court prosecutor armed with a court order asking Rusanganwa to vacate the land. They did not show him the document.
They accused him of undermining state authority by his refusal to leave the land as par the orders of the court which show the land belongs to a one Kareba Benoni. Apparently, Rusanganwa sold the land to Kareba.
However, victim Rusanganwa says he has never sold land or anything to anyone named Kareba Benoni. Instead, they have been involved in court battles since 2012 all of which the court ruled Rusanganwa is the rightful owner of the land.
The old man says mayor Mushabe claims there is a court order, but does not show Rusanganwa the said court order. Rusanganwa wants to see it, check its validity and if possible seek appeal, but is unable because he has not seen it.
Rusanganwa is in possession of several documents that show the land located in Rubira cell, Rwimiyaga sector of Nyagatare district bordering Uganda, is indeed his.
First, Rusanganwa has document issued by the Lt Gen Ibingira commission granting him the land on March 9, 2009.
Strangely though, Rusanganwa has another court order issued July 2, 2013 requiring him to pay fine of Rwf 5,950 for filing a case in court yet the land was in his names.
The story is that Rusanganwa had filed a court case against Kareba Benoni and another person Shyaka Enock accusing them of attempting to grab his land. The court found that no one had grabbed the land and it remains in Rusanganwa’s names.
It is this that made the court in Nyagatare to punish Rusanganwa for wasting its time.
Rusanganwa has been evicted from the land despite there being no other court order to the effect. In his interview with Hanga.com, a local news site, Rusanganwa says categorically that the court order which the Nyagatare district mayor Mushabe is alluding to doesn’t exist, and if it does, then it is fake.
Contacted by local media, Eastern Province Governor Fred Mufulikye, who is mayor Mushabe’s political supervisor said he knows the fight over this land and is going to follow up, yet the case has been dragging on for this long.
As a result of being evicted from his land, Rusanganwa’s cows that were on it died and claims to have lost up to Rwf 50m.
Meanwhile, mayor Mushabe says it is not in his responsibilities to implement court orders, and that he only went to Rusanganwa’s home to intervene in the case because the issue was causing unnecessary conflict in the area. Mushabe also says he wanted to settle the case so that court orders are respected.
Rusanganwa suspects the mayor is using his power to help out Kareba Benoni grab his land.