What you need to know:
- Leaders entrusted with community properties have been accused of fronting selfish interests to become wealthy.
Muslim leaders have asked President Museveni to intervene in a land dispute where the community risks losing two square miles at Bukalagi Village, Ntuusi Sub-county, Sembabule District.
Last week, the High Court in Masaka deferred a case in which a group of Muslims accused Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) leaders of illegally selling community land formerly known as Mawogola Ranch.
Presiding judge Victoria Nakintu was reported to be away handling a criminal session in the island district of Kalangala.
While appearing before court deputy registrar Julius K Burore, the parties were informed that the case had been further adjourned to March 20, 2024 when the pre-trial process is expected to start before being handled by the trial judge.
Records before the court indicate that on June 24, 2020, top Muslim leaders, in disregard of the interests of the Islamic faith, sold the Muslim land to businessman Arthur Kayanja.
Speaking at the last funeral rites of Hajj Kassim Mukiibi at Budda Village, Bukomansimbi District at the weekend, the Supreme Mufti Sheik Shaban Galabuzi, the head of the parallel Muslim administration at Kibuli, said Muslims are dissatisfied with the process through which the property was disposed of.
“Even the amount it [land] was sold by UMSC top leadership is below market price,” he said.
The Supreme Mufti asked Hajjat Hadijah Namyalo, a senior presidential adviser and also head of the office of the national chairperson, who was in attendance, to request President Museveni to help the community recover the Sembabule land which UMSC leadership had also illegally sold to Kampala businessman Drake Lubega.
“Please tell the President that we are not happy with how Muslim affairs are run at UMSC headquarters especially when it comes to the management of properties. How can someone sell such a huge piece of land at Shs900m?” he asked.
In response, Hajjat Namyalo faulted leaders who were entrusted with community properties and decided to sell them for their selfish interests. She promised to report the matter to the President as the Muslim leaders requested.
“In the meantime, I have assigned counsel Hussein Ssebuufu to provide all necessary legal support to the Muslims pursuing this matter in court,” she said.
It is alleged that the UMSC top leadership led by Mufti Sheikh Shaban Mubajje first leased 300 acres of Bukalagi land to businessman Moses Amanya.
Later, Mr Albert Muganga of Enterprise Handling Services Ltd secured a 15-year-old lease on the same land at Shs900m in 2013, and later in 2020, another businessman Arthur Kayanja also claimed he had bought the land at Shs3.5 billion.
Both Muganga and Kayanja later sued the Mufti Mubajje and UMSC, alleging that they never possessed the land they bought.
Businessman Kayanja dragged Mubajje to the Commercial Court in Kampala which ruled in the former’s favour and directed UMSC to compensate him with Shs18 billion, including the costs and damages he had incurred in the case, whereas Mr Muganga took the case to Masaka High Court to direct UMSC to implement the agreement they had earlier entered.
Court in Masaka, however, later ruled on the matter and directed Mr Muganga to pay UMSC Shs900 million in order to acquire the land.
Mr Muganga has since filed an application in the same court seeking to direct UMSC and the Commissioner of Land Registration to avail him the title of the land in question –something a section of the Muslim community vehemently oppose.
The land in question was donated to Muslims by former President Idi Amin Dada in 1974.
At first, the UMSC top leadership denied selling the Sembabule land, but then UMSC secretary general Hajj Ramathan Mugalu later confirmed that the disputed piece of land was disposed of at Shs3.5b because “the council was not benefiting from it over the years”.
Hajj Mugalu said the proceeds from the sold land were later used to purchase an apartment in Nyanja-Ntinda, a Kampala suburb, which fetches Shs10m per month, and another rental property at Nyanama Village, located off Entebbe Road where UMSC earns Shs2.8m per month.
However, both properties have not been publicly shown to Muslims.
The Muslim community has been enmeshed in land wrangles since 2006. This has fueled conflicts within the community in the country.