Sheikh Abbas Mohammad Kilevu. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

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Security, family disagree over Sheikh Kilevu killing

What you need to know:

Muslim clerics have described the deceased as a polite man who was non-violent and religious.

Uganda security forces yesterday announced that they had killed one of the most valuable targets in their counter-terrorism operations, but the family said Sheikh Abbas Mohammad’s killing was “cold blood murder … of a peaceful servant of Allah”.

Sheikh Kilevu, an Imam at the Fulkan Mosque in Gangu, Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality in Wakiso District, was gunned by the counter-terrorism squad that raided his home in the wee hours of yesterday.

In accounts of the circumstances in which the Muslim cleric was shot dead, the Defence and Military spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, said security forces put Sheikh Kilevu out of action after he attempted to flee.

“Kilevu was one of the associates and recruiters of the suicide bombers [who detonated twin explosives in Kampala on Tuesday] and played a coordination role in the Ntoroko [terror] cell,” she said.

Police officers with a sniffer dog at the home of Sheikh Kilevu. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

Two bombs ripped through the capital mid-morning on Tuesday, instantly killing six, half being police officers, and injuring dozens, 27 of them police officers mainly at the Central Police Station (CPS).

President Museveni and police have separately accused the Democratic Republic of Congo-based Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a designated terrorist group, of masterminding the attacks using Ugandan terror cell networks and suicide bombers.

Three of the fatalities on the day of the blast were suicide bombers, according to police spokesman Fred Enanga, leading to major security swoop and the arrest, by late yesterday, of up to 21 suspects in and around Kampala as well as Ntoroko District in western Uganda.

Among the targets, according to security and intelligence agencies, was Sheikh Kilevu and they laid siege at his residence at about 4am yesterday in an operation that abruptly ended his life.

Speaking to this newspaper yesterday, the family roundly dismissed the official account and said when security officers came knocking and calling out the Sheikh, his wife, Sofia Nakacwa, opened the door.

“They asked where dad was and mummy told them, ‘she only stays with [the] children’. But dad quickly came out of the bedroom. He was told to raise his hands and then handcuffed, taken out with mummy and then we were told to lock the door,” one of his children, whom we are not naming because they are a minor, said.

According to Ms Aisha Nantege, an elderly lady who was present at the time of the raid, “a few moments later, bullets were fired. Some vehicles left and others remained. In the morning we found the body lying in blood”.

Sheikh Kilevu, his wife and children. PHOTO/JAMES KABENGWA

Security operatives reportedly arrested Ms Nakacwa because they considered that she tried to conceal the husband’s presence by claiming she only lived with the children.

Brig Byekwaso said when Sheikh Kilevu was led out of his compound, he attempted to escape and was shot and he died instantly.

Caked blood was still visible mid-morning yesterday at the spot where he was killed, roughly 20 metres from his house.

Before the officers arrived at the Katereke B Village in Nsangi Town Council where Kilevu was killed, they first raided his home in Gangu in Makindye Ssabagabo where they picked his son Lukeman Kilevu and his mother only identified as Aisha Kilevu. Others arrested were not identified.

In Katereke, Kilevu lived with his wife Nakacwa with whom he had four children.

Sheikh Kilevu had served as the Imam of Lukhan Mosque in Gangu for two years, according to the Hussein Mayambala, the councillor representing Gangu C Ward to Makindye Ssabagabo Municipal Council.

“Sheikh was a polite man, non-violent. He had no clandestine moves. He was straight and loving. His fondness among the people can be seen by how much love is pouring after his killing,” Mr Mayambala said.

He said the cleric dedicated all his time in life to religion, moving from one mosque to another, preaching, teaching and spreading Islam.

Relatives console a daughter of Sheikh Kilevu at their home in Nsangi-Katereke, Kyengera Town Council in Wakiso District yesterday. PHOTO/JAMES KABENGWA

Apart from being an Imam, Councillor Mayambala said Kilevu was also a teacher of Islamic Religion at Gangu Islamic Muslim Primary School.

“We place the killers of our Imam in the hands of God who has the capacity to judge appropriately,” he said.

Besides his wives Nakacwa and Nantenge and son Lukeman, security forces yesterday also seized Sheikh Kilevu’s sister-in-law Mariam.

By press time, the body of Kilevu was still at the city mortuary for autopsy. The family said they are likely to bury the Sheikh at Nkoowe cemetery where his father Sheikh Abas Kilevu was buried.

In yesterday’s interview, Councillor Mayambala said “Sheikh (Kilevu) had already been arrested and if they (security forces) had wanted to extract [information] from him, when you kill him, how does he give you the needed leads”?

Ms Annet Nakayiza, a resident at Katereke, has asked for God’s protection in the wake of what she called an “extrajudicial killing”.

“God will protect us, no one else,” she said.

One boda boda rider near the home of Kilevu, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said the deceased had been friendly and “we used to carry him to different destinations. We miss a friendly man”.

Kilevu’s daughter Bushira and step-daughter Leila Nabbosa said they would miss a “loving father” who did his best to provide for his family.

“When my father died, my mom Sofia got married to Sheikh and he has raised me as his daughter, paying all [school] fees and other necessities until now when I am a university student,” Ms Nabbosa said.

She said Sheikh Kilevu was a humorous person who cracked jokes with them.

“Now that he has been killed by the government, it (the government) should ensure my siblings continue with studies and medi-care,” Ms. Nabbosa said.

Sheikh Hassan Kaluusi, the chairperson of Lukhan Mosque, said he knew Kilevu nearly 10 years ago when the deceased was a businessman publishing and selling Islamic religious books.

“He also used to gather and teach women the science of keeping a husband away from adultery. That he loved what he was doing, he rode his bike from Katereke to Gangu whenever there was call for duty during Covid-19,” Mr Kaluusi said.

He added: “You can imagine such a loving man is one [that] they nearly killed in the face of his young children.”

Sheikh Suleiman Sserunkuuma, the chairman of Harari Wakiso Muslim District, described Kilevu as a down-to-earth cleric who preached for unity.

“We are all devastated and appalled [and] in state of sorrow after the killing of our Imam,” Mr Sserunkuuma said speaking from Gangu.

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