Usafi mosque: One family's struggle to rescue their children

Monday April 30 2018

Usafi mosque: One family's struggle to rescue their children

Some of the children and women who were reportedly rescued during security raid on Usafi Mosque in Kisenyi, Kampala. COURTESY PHOTO  

By Agencies

A family, whose two children were part of the children held hostage at Usafi Mosque, has narrated how they struggled to retrieve the minors in vain. The children are 12-year-old Adillah Nakijoba and 13-year-old, Jamillah Nampeela, both residents of Mutundwe, a Kampala suburb.
Their grandmother, Ms Afusa Namujuzi explains that the children disappeared together with their father, Abubaker Ssenono on December 29, 2017.
According to Ms Namujuzi, she filed a case of missing persons at Mutundwe Police Station under reference number SD14/19/01/2018.

She explains that ten months prior to Ssenono's disappearance with the children, he severed communication with members of his family. Namujuzi explains that Ssenono also ordered his wives Rahma Nantumbwe and the late Zaituni Nakavuma to start praying at a mosque on Sekaziga building in Kampala.
He reportedly directed them to stop working, saying Allah will provide for them their needs provided they stayed at Sekaziga mosque. According to Namujuzi, Ssenono handed his omnibus taxi to his brother on grounds that his faith couldn't tolerate people who earn their survival through work.
She explains that although the group was based at Usafi, one has to go through Sekaziga mosque for training before they are transferred to Usafi. Namujuzi notes that his son, Ssenono once told him that he will never die in Uganda, which is full of pagans.
She explains that they continued tracing for the whereabouts of the children. Namujuzi says they received information that prior to his disappearance, Ssenono left a phone contact to one of their relatives in Rakai District. It is through her that they were able to trace the whereabouts of the children.
She explains that they went to Usafi mosque and demanded to speak to Mwalimu Mahad alias Abdulahaman but they were turned away, saying he wasn't around. She however, says they were able to meet Mwalimu Mahad later who told them that there was no cause for alarm since the children were studying at the mosque.
Namujuzi says they were able to speak to the children directly, but they looked scared, saying they were not allowed to tell them anything or any other person for that matter. She however, says one of the children told her they were suffering but couldn't find their way out of the place.
Muswalid Mutesasira, an uncle to the children, says when they established the location of the children, they reported the matter at Old Kampala Police Station for help. However, the Officer in Charge of Criminal Investigations at Old Kampala Police Station reportedly advised them to return to Mutundwe Police Station where they had earlier reported a case of missing of persons.

Mutesasira however, says that at Mutundwe an investigative officer whose identity he didn't establish told them they couldn't investigate matters related to religion. He instead referred them to Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), which told them it wasn't aware of the said mosque. The family tried to approach some journalists to express their plight, but this didn't help because of the very secretive operations of the group and fear among residents to share information on the group for fear of reprisal.
Last Saturday, a team of police and UPDF soldiers raided the mosque while pursuing a suspect in the murder of Susan Magara, leading to the rescue of 112 people including children and women. According to Mutesasira, although they haven't received their children, his friend in the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) assured him that their children are amongst those rescued.
Asked why they haven't been able to pick the children, Mutesasira explained that they have been told that the children are being questioned at Naguru Child Protection Unit, adding that they will be handed over after the process. Mutesasira is hopeful that they will receive the children by Tuesday.