The Commissioner Land Registration has given the management of dfcu Bank seven days to return the 48 properties, whose lease certificates he has cancelled, to Meera Investments Limited, the owners of the defunct Crane Bank.
Baker Mugaino, the commissioner Lands Registration, in his letter dated November 8, said the directive is in line with implementation of the court ruling that was issued last month.
In the ruling issued on October 24, 2023, the High Court Land Division ordered dfcu Bank to vacate the 48 leasehold properties belonging to the defunct Crane Bank. Justice Tadeo Asiimwe further directed the Commissioner Land Registration to immediately cancel 48 suit leases, lease variations and extensions registered as encumbrances on the mailo and freehold titles belonging to Crane Bank Limited.
Mugaino said in line with the court ruling, he cancelled all the certificates to the titles, hence dfcu Bank must return them to the owner.
“You will recall that judgment in the above captioned suit was entered in the favour of the Plaintiff, Meera Investments Limited against DFCU Bank Limited and the Office of the Commissioner Land Registration. Orders were made directing the office to rectify the register in the terms set out in the decree including cancellation of the leasehold certificates of title. A copy of the decree is enclosed for ease of reference,” he wrote.
The commissioner said he rectified the register and cancelled all the leases on the properties.
“In view of the self-executing nature of the orders of the Court and in order to avert possible contempt proceedings, this office proceeded and implemented the decree of the court to the extent of the orders made for its implementation, by rectifying the register and cancelling the leases as encumbrances on the Mailo and Freehold certificates of title registered in the names of Meera Investments Limited and further by cancelling all the entries on the register and white pages of DFCU Bank Limited as proprietor of the 48 leasehold properties.
The purpose hereof is therefore to request that, since the leasehold titles have been cancelled thereby rendering the 48 duplicate certificates of title in your possession legally inconsequential, the same should be returned to this office to avoid any possible misuse thereof. Kindly do so within Seven days from the date of receipt of this letter,” he added.
In the ruling the court also ordered dfcu Bank to pay former Crane bank Shs2.4 billion in damages with 8% interest per year for trespassing on property of the defunct bank.
The plaintiff had initiated this legal action against the defendants, namely dfcu Bank and the Commissioner of Land Registration, for their alleged illegal and fraudulent sale and possession of 48 leasehold properties. Mera Investments based its claims on its status as the registered proprietor and lessor of 48 Mailo and freehold titles, from which the lease agreements in question stemmed.
The battle centred around the possession of these properties, and the subsequent transfer of titles and lease possession in favour of dfcu Bank. In contrast, dfcu Bank refuted these allegations, maintaining that they had lawfully acquired their interest in the 48 leasehold properties through a purchase from the Bank of Uganda as a receiver of Crane Bank Limited.