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Lawyer sues gov’t over Bamasaba Cultural Institution succession wrangles

According to the suit, Nabutele faults the Attorney General for declaring that is no rightfully elected Umukuka to replace the late Mushikor, the 2nd cultural leader of the Bamasaba who died in 2021. This stems from a June 7th, 2021 letter by the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka to the Gender Ministry that dismissed claims of the warring factions in Inzu Yamasaba led by John Amram Wagabyalire and Jude Mudoma, claiming to be the legitimate leaders of the cultural institution.

MBALE CITY: Mbale based lawyer Gordon Nabutele has sued the Attorney General for alleged interference in the affairs of Bamasaba Cultural Institution alias Inzu Ya Masaba. Nabutele accuses the Attorney General of making a pronouncement that there is no rightly elected successor to the former Umukuka, the late Bob Mushikor.

He wants the High court to summon the Attorney General to explain why he is interfering in the affairs of the cultural institution and declare John Amram Wagabyalire, as the rightly elected cultural leader of the Inzu Ya Masaaba as soon as possible in order for the Bamasaba to prepare for the August 2022 Embalu launch.

According to the suit, Nabutele faults the Attorney General for declaring that is no rightfully elected Umukuka to replace the late Mushikor, the 2nd cultural leader of the Bamasaba who died in 2021. This stems from a June 7th, 2021 letter by the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka to the Gender Ministry that dismissed claims of the warring factions in Inzu Yamasaba led by John Amram Wagabyalire and Jude Mudoma, claiming to be the legitimate leaders of the cultural institution.

According to Kiryowa, Wagabyalire whose election was held in December 2020 was conducted after the expiry of the term of office of the organs of the Inzu Ya Masaaba had lapsed on October 15th, 2020, which made his election invalid. He also noted that Jude Mudoma was elected in October 2020 in contravention of a high court order stopping elections in the institution, adding that no effort was made by the affected to vacate the court order before proceeding with the elections.

However, Nabutele insists that Wagabyalire was validly elected under the supervision of the late Mushikori. He wants the High court to declare Wagabyalire as the legitimate cultural leader of the Bamasaba. “A declaration that on the 11th December 2020 at a general assembly of Inzu Ya Masaba held at its headquarters rightly elected Wagabyalire John Amram as Umukuka III and the outgoing Umukuka presided over the function and handed over office to him,” he notes his February 28th, 2022 application.

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Nabutele also wants the court to issue an order quashing the letter of the solicitor general issued on the 7th June 2021, which nullified the procedure that was used to elect the Umukuka III and order the Attorney General to pay him the costs of the suit. Speaking to journalists shortly after filing his application at Mbale High Court, Nabutele said that he wants by August this year, the Bamasaba to have a cultural leader to preside over the launch of Imbalu, the traditional circumcision festivities.

The high court is yet to summon the Attorney General to file his response to the suit. More than a year after the demise of Mushikor, Inzu Ya Masaba is still struggling to find a unifying leader. Mushikori succumbed to COVID-19 on January 4, 2021.

By the time of his demise, Inzu Ya Masaba had split into warring factions allied to Jude Mike Mudoma and John Amram Wagabyalire. The succession battle has dragged on with each faction claiming legitimacy.

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However, the Gender, Labor, and Social Development Ministry which is in charge of cultural institutions has categorically stated that none of the warring claimants has been gazetted. By the time of his death, Muhikor had endorsed Wagabyalire as his successor following an election.



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