Army and police have been deployed at Basajjabalaba Mosque in Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality for five days now following disagreements among the Muslims in the area.
Bushenyi District Police Commander (DPC) Mr Ronald Rutaro said police backed up by the army last Sunday, moved to secure property and lives of people after a group of Muslims attacked the mosque last week.
“We got information that a group of Muslims had attacked Ishaka-Basajjabalaba mosque with pangas; we went there and did a search and we were able to recover pangas and spears. We decided to deploy for the security of the area,’’ Mr Rutaro said on Wednesday.
A section of Muslims are opposed to leadership the of the District Kadhi Mubarak Kateinama. They accuse him of poor management and misusing mosque property including finances, buildings and land.
Police say it is the group opposed to the Kadhi that invaded the mosque. “A day before the invasion, a gang of over 70 people moved through Bushenyi town with pangas protesting against the district Kadhi; we have arrested three with their pangas,’’ said Mr Rutaro.
Though the Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje has intervened in the matter, Mr Rutaro said police also are investigating the conflict and that deployment will remain until the situation returns to normal.
Hajji Umaru Muhanguzi, a councilor for Igara County in the Muslim Supreme Council, who is among those opposed to Sheik Kateinama’s leadership said on Thursday that the Khadi has neglected his roles. “In administration of the area, Kadhi is not available yet this is a full time job. There is no progress in activities and work because he is not around. We have had only two Muslim District Council meetings in the last seven years when we should have been meeting quarterly,” said Hajji Muhanguzi.
He added, “There should be a budget and work plan but these are not there. Islam in the area has lost meaning.”
Mr Muhanguzi said the Muslims gave business tycoon Hassan Basajjabalaba land to establish personal projects on an understanding that he in turn constructs for them commercial buildings for income generation but he has never fulfilled this, and the district Khadhi is siding with him.
“On one of the (pieces of) land (Basjjabalaba was given) he has a parking yard and some buildings but he has never built for Muslims as promised. The Kadhi is on his side and we are saying why does he want Muslims to lose?” he said.
Muslims have not prayed from the mosque since security took control.
“Let them open the mosque and police remain to keep law and order as the issues are being resolved. There is no need for army,” said Hajji Muhanguzi.
Sheik Kateinama however denied the allegations against him. “These are mere accusations, they are not true. We (Kateinama and his opponents) met Mufti in Kampala over these issues and an investigation is being conducted,” said Sheik Kateinama.
He added that the impasse started last month. On February 16 while they were in Isingiro district attending a seminar, a group of Tabliq Muslims from different parts of the district went at night and took over operations of the mosque and the office of District Kadhi. He added that police did not help much when they reported the matter on February 17. Mr Kateinama said that instead of protecting the mosque from wrong elements, police offered them protection and that caused insecurity in the area.
“Since February 16, the mosque had been under threat by the people who are known to the security as bad elements who are training rebels.
Army have been deployed to help us to protect the place because it had become insecure for us since there are some people who were threatening to tie themselves with bombs so that they can explode with it at the mosque,’’ said Mr Kateinama.
The UPDF Second Division spokesperson Maj. Peter Mugisa (Thursday) said they are supporting their sister security agency as per their constitutional mandate. He added, “The UPDF there is under command of police in Bushenyi. We are there to augment police because they were thin on the ground. There were attacks; we need to secure that area until there is serenity and calmness.”