Mufti Mubaje sued for overstaying in office, holding unlawful assembly

He was sued alongside Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) secretary general Shiekh Ramadhan Mugalu, acting chairperson Hajji Abdul Nadduli and the chairperson of the UMSC

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje has been dragged to the civil division of the High court over alleged illegal overstay in office.

He was sued alongside Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) secretary general Shiekh Ramadhan Mugalu, acting chairperson Hajji Abdul Nadduli and the chairperson of the UMSC constitutional review commission Prof Edrissa Serugo Kasenene.

The petitioners; Sheikh Muhammed Irumba, Sheikh Ahmadah Barongo and Sheikh Rusukya Sufian want court to declare that Mubaje and Mugalu are currently holding offices illegally since their tenure expired on May 13, 2022 and that the constitutional review process that was conducted by the supreme council was non-inclusive of the Muslim community.

They also want a permanent injunction restraining Mubaje and other leaders currently in office or singularly Mubaje and Mugalu from running the affairs of UMSC.

Adduced evidence before court shows that on April 8, 2017, during the general assembly of the UMSC, it was resolved that the tenure of the office bearers and the council be extended for a period of five years to enable UMSC to review its constitution and incorporate all the amendments that would be proposed and agreed on. The decision also implied that an extended period of the council was supposed to run until May 13, 2022.

The proposed amendments suggest that the Mufti should be aged at least 55, but not exceeding 80 years and eligible to serve one 10-year term. The old constitution didn’t include term limits but set the Mufti’s retirement age at 70.

There is also a suggestion to change the present constitution so that the Mufti is chosen by a college of learned sheikhs rather than by the general assembly. It is also suggested that the office of the Mufti shall at any time be rotational – based on the four regions of Uganda namely eastern, northern, western, and central Uganda.

The proposal also aims to fill up any gaps with regard to some specific groups in society, including women, children, youth, and people with disabilities, whose requirements weren’t taken into account by the 1986 changes.

However, court records show that the intended amendment of the constitution was supposed to be an all-inclusive exercise with wide consultation of all the Muslims countrywide including Sheikhs and other Muslim leaders.

“The constitutional review committee led by Prof Kasenene estimated the Muslim population to be approximately nine million but in the same report, the commission stated that it only interacted with 4,855 Muslims; a ratio that is way below the average of the total Muslim population in Uganda,” reads the case.

The applicants further accuse Mubaje of having appointed Kasenene to head the constitutional review commission that came up with a draft constitution without the mandatory resolution of the general assembly and UMSC, the institutional top organ.
“Prof Kasenene was supposed to lead the commission between January 17, 2022, and March 17, 2022, but rather went on to illegally chair the commission till July 4, 2022, when the said draft constitution was forwarded to Mubaje,” the petition reads.

The applicants now state that the respondents are a disgrace to the Muslim community at large and being members of the faith, they are aggrieved by their conduct which they describe as fraudulent and unlawful.

They now want court to declare that the constitutional review process conducted by the Kasenene-led committee was a none inclusive process for all the beneficiaries and the Muslim community.

The suit filed by the applicant’s lawyers of Kob Advocates and Solicitors comes at the time when the delegates of UMSC are convening at Old Kampala Mosque to review the constitution. The respondents are yet to defend themselves before the case is fixed for hearing.

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