KAMPALA – The Muslim Parliamentary Caucus has decreed that security organs, unconditionally release Sheikh Yahya Mwanje – the Deputy Head of the Jamatil Salafiya Dawatil Tabliq sect.
“We are not against arresting of anyone….but the manner in which these abductions are carried out, and where our sheikhs are kept.
“We can, as a way of defending of society, order Muslims to attack those drones which carry out the kidnaps,” threatened one of the Muslim Parliamentarians.
Unntimes learnt from reliable sources that Sheikh Yahya Mwanje has since been released – after CMI authorities handed him over to Police on Monday evening.
“We are pleased to inform the country that our pressure yielded fruit when CMI handed over Sheikh Mwanje to Special Investigations Unit – Kirekka yesterday. He was subsequently released on police bond with Sheikh (Yunus Muhammad) Kamoga as a surety….he spent the night at his home…,” Mukono North MP – Abdallah Kiwanuka, revealed.
The group under the chairmanship of Asuman Basalirwa – the Bugiri Municipality MP addressed a press conference at the Parliamentary premises in Kampala on Monday, condemning acts of illegal arrest of Muslim leaders and their continued detention without trial.
“Last week the country witnessed the illegal arrest of Sheikh Yahya Mwanje, one of the leaders of Nakasero Mosque and another Muslim leader from Mbale, Haji Mansa Musa.
“We are deeply concerned about those arrests. The mode of the arrest does not befit religious leaders of their status. Ordinarily, you would have expected the Police or any security agency to summon the religious leaders, and given their status, these sheikhs would have responded to the summons,” said Basalirwa.
The other legislators – including the Katikamu South MP, Hassan Kirumira, Kiboga West MP, Abdul Mutumba, Mukono North MP, Abdallah Kiwanuka, Mawokota South MP Yusuf Nsibambi and Kyadondo East MP Muwada Nkunyingi were in attendance.
Basalirwa wondered why the Muslim religious leaders were being picked without following the legal process and detained incommunicado; adding that keeping people in ungazetted detention facilities was against the Constitution.
“There was some lazy statement, which was made on the floor of parliament that Sheikh Yahya Mwanje is with CMI…but nobody has seen him there, he is inaccessible. That is illegal, it is unconstitutional.
“We protest the kind of treatment that our religious leaders are being subjected to. We are also concerned that up to now, Sheikh Yahya Mwanje has not been produced before courts of law. The Constitution is clear that once somebody is arrested, they can only be kept not beyond 48 hours. After 48 hours, they are either given police bonds or produced before courts of law. That has not happened,” fumed Basalirwa.
He demanded that Mwanje and other religious leaders held illegally be unconditionally released and allowed to access their lawyers, doctors, and families. He said that if they cannot be released, they should be produced before courts of law immediately.
Abdallah Kiwanuka, the Shadow Minister of Internal Affairs, said the group wasn’t arresting any criminal but the law should be adhered to.
“Whether a person is a Muslim or not, the law should be followed while being arrested. Up to now, the country does not know the charges against these people,” he said, demanding that government explains the continuous arrests of Muslim clerics under unclear circumstances.
Abdul Mutumba, the Kiboga West MP also demanded that government immediately produces the clerics before the court, if they have a case to answer.
“It is now more than a week since the arrests were done and these people have not been produced before the court.
“Also, the Muslim leadership should wake up and get interested in this critical issue,” said Mutumba, who doubles as the Parliament Imam.
Hassan Kirumira, the Katikamu South MP shared the same sentiments and demanded an explicit explanation from the government about the arrest of Muslim sheikhs.
Yusuf Nsibambi, the Mawokota South MP said that the humiliation of Muslim clerics should stop and demanded the immediate release of Sheikh Mwanje.
Muwada Nkunyingi, the Kyadondo East MP said that the detention of people in ungazetted places and failure by responsible authorities to produce them before courts of law infringes on human rights.
Last week, the Head of the Jamatil Salafiya Dawatil Tabliq Muslim community Sheikh Yunus Kamoga called for calm amongst the Muslim faithfuls following the arrest of his deputy.
While addressing the press at Nakasero Mosque in Kampala, Kamoga narrated that Mwanje was picked up from outside the mosque by gun -wielding in civilian clothes, driving a Silver Grey Toyota Hiace commonly known as a drone Reg. No. UBM 187E, reiterating that they were yet to find out his whereabouts, let alone learning the reason for his kidnap.
According to Kamoga, Mwanje was the second person to be abducted by such people in less than a week. The first one, he said, was Abdul Wahab Buyondo. Sheikh Mwanje is one of the suspects in the murder of Sheikh Maj Muhammad Kiggundu and his bodyguard.
Mwanje was arrested in 2016 and kept in detention until June 2019 when the International Crimes Division of the High Court granted him a non-cash bail of 20 million Shillings and each of his four sureties was bonded for 10 million shillings.
Sheikh Mwanje is jointly charged with Sheikh Muhammad Buyondo alias, Matiya and Abdul Wahab Sendegeya – both boda boda riders in Kyengera, and Musa Sekandi alias Masanafu. It is alleged that the suspects assassinated Kiggundu, together with his bodyguard Stephen Mukasa, on November 26, 2016 at Masanafu Trading Centre in Lubaga Division.
Additional reporting by URN