Irish man loses his house, 10 plots of land, farm to Ugandan fiancée after he registered the properties in her name

An Irish national, David Michael O’Connel, has cried out after Mpigi Magistrate Court in Uganda ruled him out of a house, 10 plots of land and a farm worth billions of shillings after he purchased the properties in the names of his Ugandan fiancée but could not prove that he is the financier behind.

In her judgement delivered on Friday, September 10, Chief Magistrate Ruth Nabaasa held that court would not go into the nitty gritties of whether the money that Ms Catherine Nakawooza used to acquire 10 plots land, 10 acres of farm land at Namayumba in Wakiso District and a house worth billions were financed by Mr. O’Connel.

“Merely being the financier of a land transaction for which another person becomes registered as the proprietor is not one of the legally recognised exceptions to indefeasibility of title under the Registration of Titles Act,” Chief Magistrate Nabaasa held.

“It seems moot and academic for this court to venture into analysing whether indeed it is the respondent’s funds (Mr O’Connel) that paid for the petitioners’ lands (Ms Nakawooza). I am aware that the petitioner (Ms Nakawooza) contested the nexus between the documentary evidence adduced by the respondent to prove that he was the source of funds for the petitioner’s land transactions,” she added.

“Nonetheless, owing to my findings in issue 2, I am satisfied that the residential home of the petitioner (Ms Nakawooza) where she ordinarily resides with her three children, rightful belongs to her. An order doth issue restraining the respondent (Mr O’Connel) from accessing this home without the petitioner’s prior permission,” Ms Nabaasa ruled.

Ms Nakawooza was represented by Mr Godfrey Rwalinda while Mr Mohammad Mbabazi was counsel for Mr O’Connel.

Court documents show that Mr O’Connel and Ms Nakawooza had a relationship starting around 2002.

The couple started staying together around the same time and later had three children.

According to court records, Ms Nakawooza led evidence to show that she solemnised a customary marriage with Mr O’Connel on January 25, 2014 in Bweyogerere near Kampala.

She also led evidence to show that while they were cohabiting, she acquired a number of real estate properties, which she registered in her names and entrusted all the documents of title in the custody and care of Mr O’Connel.

Ms Nakawooza also led evidence that after their marriage, they acquired another property in Nansana comprising 11 self-contained rentals units whose particulars Mr O’Connel secretly kept from her.

However, in response, Mr O’Connel denied solemnising a traditional marriage with Ms Nakawooza.

He said the events of January 25, 2014, at Bweyogerere did not constitute a traditional marriage but just a visit to Ms Nakawooza’s mother to be known as the man who was dating their daughter and also a father of the three children.

Mr O’Connel also said since he was not a Ugandan, he was not allowed to purchase mailo land, hence buying it in Ms Nakawooza’s names.

“At the trial, the respondent (Mr O’Connel) presented a myriad of documents showing bank transfers and bills of exchange to prove that he was the actual source of funds that paid for the properties,” Mr O’Connel stated.