Museveni asks CJ Owiny-Dollo to review sale of Gadaffi Mosque

Museveni asks CJ Owiny-Dollo to review auction of Gadaffi National Mosque

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | President Yoweri Museveni has requested Chief Justice Alfonse Owinyi-Dollo to conduct a personal review of rulings from the High Court and Court of Appeal that authorized the auctioning of properties owned by the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC).

In a letter dated December 7 to Owinyi-Dollo, Museveni said he was taken aback by the decision of the Court to allow the sale of Muslim properties including Gadaffi National Mosque because of a mistake committed by individuals.   

“I was most surprised to read in Mufti Mubajje’s letter that among the Moslem properties to be affected is the National Mosque at Old Kampala!! Really!! What sane person, let alone a judge can make such orders? How can a Mosque or Church be attached for debts carelessly entered into by officials of that faith? If there is no law protecting institutions of worship, then common sense is there. I, therefore, request you to review this matter yourself and see how to restore sanity,” wrote Museveni.

“His Eminence Mubaje alleges other examples of misconduct and collusion. You should study all those. What, however, provoked me was the audacity of attaching the National Mosque. The NRM freedom fighters and the government they head, cannot be associated with sick logic,” Museveni’s letter further reads in part.

The president’s letter followed a petition by the Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubaje dated November 29 to the president complaining about how the matter was handled by the judiciary.

“I had been hearing about those wrangles but I had not focused my attention to them because I knew there are capable national institutions responsible for those issues, especially the Judiciary you head,” Museveni’s letter reads in part. 

Mubajje had also publicly assailed the judiciary of being corrupt after it allowed Justus Kyabahwa to auction several Muslim properties to recover his Shs 19 billion accumulated from the sale to him of UMSC land in Sembabule. 

On June 24, 2020, UMSC acting through its former secretary general Ramathan Mugalu, Mufti Shaban Ramathan Mubaje, and former chairperson Abdulkadir Idi Balonde who has since died, sold two square miles of land located in Sembabule district to businessman Justus Kyabahwa at Shs 3.584 billion.

In the agreement that was signed, they agreed to transfer the ownership of the land to the businessman within 150 days failure of which they would refund the money at 12 per cent interest per month. However, the land already had a 15-year lease with Enterprise Holding Services ending in 2028.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal in Kampala on Thursday 14, December 2023 issued a temporary injunction against the sale of prime Muslim property within the city.

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This follows a decision by the Court, presided over by three Justices, to allow an application by the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) to stop businessman Justus Kyabahwa from seizing and selling their properties.

The request was based on a fraudulent land transaction that allegedly led Kyabahwa to a commercial court ruling condemning UMSC to pay him nearly Shs19 billion for failing to give vacant possession of a piece of land in Ssembabule.

The Court, led by Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, and Irene Mulyagonja, will issue the detailed reasoning for their decision overturning that of their single colleague Justice Christopher Gashirabake at a later date.

UMSC had appealed Gashirabake’s decision, and the three-justice panel granted them temporary relief. This means Kyabahwa cannot seize the Muslim property until the appeal is heard and decided.