Muslim factions in fresh clash over property in Masaka

The disputed property at Plot 25 on Masaka City's Elgin Street that has sparked conflict between Muslim factions is seen on April 25, 2023. PHOTO/ANTONIA KALYANGO

A fresh disagreement has erupted among two warring Muslim factions over the ownership of a commercial building in Masaka City.

The property in question is located at Plot 25 Elgin Street in and currently under the management of the Kibuli-based parallel Muslim administration led by Sheikh Muhammad Galabuzi.

However, the management of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) headed by Mufti Shaban Mubajje also has a claim on the same property.

The fresh row follows a letter addressed to occupants of the disputed property signed by Hajji Yusuf Gayina, the regional assistant Mufti for West Buganda Muslim region under UMSC.

The April 19,2023 letter directs tenants to stop  paying rental fees to Muslim leaders in Masaka subscribing to the Kibuli faction claiming that UMSC is the rightful owner of the property.

“Therefore, we request you to wait for another office where you will be paying the rental fees,” the letter reads in part.

According to Sheikh Badru Kiruuta Wasajja, the District Kadhi for Masaka and Kalungu who subscribes to Old Kampala faction, the disputed building was procured in the 1980’s at Shs4million from government following the expulsion of Asians who originally owned it.

“We want to correct the past mistakes, all documents to confirm this are with us. Let the other side present theirs?” he said in an interview on Monday.

He added that in March 2009, violent pro-Kibuli leaders defied a court order that had reinstated the then District Kadhi for Greater Masaka late Sheikh Huzairu Kiruuta- and blocked him from re-occupying his offices accusing him of mismanagement of office.

“As a result, they [Kibuli faction] took over offices, Masaka Main Mosque and other properties (including the one in question) where they forcefully evicted UMSC leaders and tenants. Since then they’ve been the ones collecting rental fees. I advise them to comply or else we shall seek legal redress,” Sheikh Wasajja warned.

In response, Sheikh Sulait Hamis Ssentongo, the district Kadhi for Greater Masaka under Kibuli faction has urged tenants to ignore orders issued by UMSC.  

“We cannot allow people who are bent on disposing of all Muslim properties across the country to regain access to that building,” he said.

What you should know  

The Muslim community has been caught in land wrangles since 2006. This has fueled conflicts within the community across the country. It is these conflicts that in 2009 led to the breakaway of the Kibuli group which accuses the Mufti Mubajje administration of having a hidden agenda to sell all community property for his self-aggrandizement   .

In 2008, UMSC leased Plot 30 on William Street in Kampala to businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba. He later sold it to another city mogul Drake Lubega. This matter ended up in court with some Muslims accusing Mufti Shaban Mubajje of illegally disposing of the property but the then Buganda Road Chief Magistrate Margret Tibulya court (currently judge of Anti-corruption court) acquitted him. However Tibulya ruled that contrary to what Sheik Mubajje was saying, there was undisputed evidence to show that he had disposed of the Muslim property.