UMSC secures court order restraining ‘Mufti’ Ssemambo

Police checking cars entering Old Kampala Mosque. PHOTO URN

The Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) has obtained a court order halting the enforcement of previous directives issued by Justice Faridah Shamilah Bukirwa Ntambi in regard to management of the religious body. Justice Dr Winfred N. Nabisinde issued the restraining order on Monday, December 18.

The order specifically targets the individuals who obtained a directive leading to a special sitting of the General Assembly, which resulted in the said suspension of the Mufti, Sheikh Shaban Mubaje, and the UMSC National Chairperson, Prof. Muhamadi Lubega.

Dr Nabisinde stated that the new order will stay in effect until the main legal proceedings are definitively resolved interparty, ensuring that both involved parties have the opportunity to be present and present their arguments and evidence.

“A restraining order is made stopping further execution and or implementation of orders of this honourable court in the company cause No.002/2023 pending the service and hearing of the misc. application No. 307/2023 and 306/2023 (both arising from company cause No. 02/2023) interparty,” the order reads in part. She further specified that the order will be effective until December 22 when the two mentioned filings are presented before the principal judge for further handling.

In the order issued on December 12, Justice Bukirwa granted authority to Babirye Yudaya, Burhan Namanya, and Hussein Simbwa to convene a special session of the UMSC General Assembly to address the general affairs of the UMSC and promptly submit a report before the Court.

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She also granted the applicants the authority to choose a neutral venue for the sitting and appoint an individual responsible for calling the meeting.

The orders also gave the attendees the liberty to select someone amongst themselves to preside over the gathering. The said meeting took place over the weekend at Ggangu Primary School. Participants at the session resolved to suspend Sheikh Mubaje as the Mufti of Uganda and the UMSC National Chairperson, Prof. Lubega.

They went ahead and named the deputy Mufti, Sheikh Abdallah Ssemambo as interim Mufti of Uganda for six months, during which an Adhoc committee will investigate allegations against Sheikh Mubaje, particularly focusing on matters related to the sale and auctioning of Muslim properties.

However, the UMSC leadership, led by Secretary General Hadji Abbas Sekyanzi Muluubya, has dismissed the events that transpired over the weekend.

They have pointed out perceived irregularities and further asserted that Justice Bukirwa erred in law by permitting individuals to convene a meeting outside the established procedures outlined in the UMSC constitution.

Hadji Muluubya also emphasized that even the subsequent process during the special session to oust the Mufti was deemed illegal.

His objection stems from the contention that the constitution clearly outlines the procedures for suspending or removing a Mufti and other high-ranking officials, which were allegedly not adhered to in this instance.

Before the issuance of the new court order, the faction opposing Mufti Mubaje was actively preparing for the installation of Ssembambo as the new Mufti, with the ceremony on the brink of taking place.

However, the process has suffered a setback owing to the new orders. However, Musa Lukandwa, the Muslim committee liaison officer from the Ssemambo group, points out that they have become aware of the mentioned order, but it has not been formally served to the respondents.

According to his perspective, the order comes tardily, as the majority of the activities it aims to halt have already been executed based on the prior court orders.

In a similar vein, Latif Kayanja, the spokesperson for the anti-Mubaje faction, asserts that the special general meeting convened in compliance with court orders, and they have promptly submitted the necessary returns to the courts as instructed.

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Regarding the new court order, he mentions that although the respondents have not been formally served, they acknowledge the legal implications of the document.

Both Kayanja and Lukandwa have confirmed that following the election of Ssemambo, arrangements are underway to ensure that he assumes their rightful position at the UMSC headquarters in Old Kampala before the end of this week.

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