By Our Reporter
A filthy rich British agro-machinery investor identified as John Magnay, has been named in a land grabbing scandal in oil-rich Bunyoro region, where he allegedly evicted thousands of people from several villages, despite having acquired the disputed land under dubious means.
Magnay, who claims he wants to start up large scale agricultural projects on the land under contention, was dragged to court over land a few months ago over grabbing and fraudulent transfer of ownership of land in Bunyoro sub-region.
A few days after being dragged to court, he was however released after being granted a non-cash bail by the Chief Magistrates Court of Masindi, vide case file No.362 of 2020, arising out of Police case No. CRB/MCB484 of 2020.
According to sources at court who preferred anonymity, Magnay was netted after he snubbed several court summons and after being netted he was transferred to Kiryandongo for litigation.
“That Muzungu was nabbed after he disrespected several court summons. He is accused of knowingly grabbing land close to 1050 acres. He is also accused by the Kiryandongo District Land Board for transfer of ownership of titles into his name through fraudulent ways. He is very stubborn and has a lot of land grabbing cases here in Kiryandongo alone,” our source revealed.
It is said that Magnay and his lawyers met the magistrate in the chambers and prayed for bail, committing themselves not to disrespect court summons and court directives anymore.
Documents acquired from our court sources indicate that Magnay is set to return to court on the 24th September 2020.
According to our sources, the Magistrate’s decision was based on the fact that the other parties who dragged Magnay to court were unavailable in court.
Magnay pleaded with court that he is chronically ill, suffering with high blood pressure and diabetes thus making it hard for him to stay in cells until the next date of appearance in court. He was requested to deposit his passport before being granted bail.
However, while speaking to reporters at Kiryandongo Magistrates court, Magnay denied the allegations and said his lawyers were handling issues but could not comment about the matter since it’s before court.
“I do not know anything about the allegations, however, I can also not comment about this since it is before court, but what I know this issue shall be resolved.” said Magnay.
According to documents seen by this Website, Magnay, in 2018, knowingly bought land from a one Molly Namara, who later was arrested for illegal sale of land which did not belong to her.
Namara later confessed to court and pleaded guilty of the fraudulent sale. She thereafter refunded Magnay his money but even after that Magnay, working with Kiryandongo District Land Board, proceeded with transferring the land title ownership into his names, thus claiming ownership for the same.
Efforts by the actual owners (a one Silim Nahdy from Aflasan Limited) to get Magnay to transfer back the land titles into their names were unfruitful therefore compelling legal action.
The Kiryandongo Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Lenos Longpek, said he has listened to a number of issues in regard to Magnay and the community over unclear land transactions.
He however, could not expound more about the matter, saying the issue was before court.
Joyce Tabingwa, the Executive Director, Platform for National land Rights Uganda(PLANLRU), said cases of multinationals owning chunks of land freely as Ugandans suffer without land is very disturbing and needs to be addressed immediately.
She said Government cannot continue supporting foreigners acquire large chunks of land while homeless Ugandans languish across the country.
“This is sad. We need a land reform Programme. How can a foreigner acquire five square miles of land when Ugandans continue to toil and cultivate on 2 acres or less. We need to investigate under what criteria an individual foreigner acquires land in Uganda,” said Tabingwa.
Who is Magnay?
John Gordon Magnay registered a new company called Ndoli Farmers limited in March 2018 together with his wife Lesley Jane Magnay, as fifty-fifty percentage shareholders.
The two acquired chunks of land in Uganda in different parts of the country, the recent being over five square miles of land in the Kiryandongo District (now with disputed acquisition procedures), over 80 acres In Nakifuma, Mukono District, where the couple owns a big piggery project and the currently disputed 1020 acres in Kiryandongo District.
Magnay, a British citizen, has lived in Uganda for over 20 years. He came to Uganda as director of defunct Magric Machinery Limited with his brother Mike Magnay.
After the two brothers badly fell out (over what is related to fraud), John started engaging in consultancies of grain logistics and trade. He then joined World Bank as consultant for business development for Opportunity Bank International, a position he holds until now.
He is also known to broker deals with various machinery companies to access financing for machinery for farmers and was recently helping John Dere to establish roots in Uganda.