KAMPALA – Authorities in Luweero on Thursday rescued 36 learners who were acquiring Islamic knowledge from an illegal school in Nanywa village, Nyimbwa sub-county. The children have since been transferred to Luwero Central Police Station. Twenty-four of the learners were identified as minors while 12 are adults.
The learners, according to police, were mobilised from Yumbe, Kabarole, Jinja, Wakiso, and Kampala districts among others. The source added that some of the learners were found sharing accommodation with goats whereas others slept on the floor in congested rooms in a residential house.
The Savannah Regional Police Spokesperson – Patrick Lule revealed that the rescue followed intelligence detailing how the learners were attending religious studies in an illegal home.
He narrated that when Police, in the company of Probation Officers from the district, visited the said home; learners were found sleeping in unhygienic rooms, which exposed them to infections. The minors were subsequently transferred to Luweero Child Reception Centre, which is under the Police Child and Family Protection Unit as efforts to trace their parents were underway, while the adults were directed to record statements with the police with a view of pressing charges against them.
Lule said that the owner of the home, Habib Abdullah was abroad but his wife who was in charge at the time, had been arrested to answer charges of operating an illegal home.
Richard Bwabye, the Luwero Resident District Commissioner, disclosed that the home had been closed with immediate effect as the owner had answer charges of operating an illegal home.
“We got reports that the children have been there for some months undergoing religious studies yet they were supposed to be in traditional schools.
“We ordered that the children are returned to their (respective) parents to enrol in traditional schools as the home is closed,” said Bwabye.
Some of the children narrated that their parents had transferred them to the home to study Islam, adding they were comfortable until police raided them on Thursday.
One of the learners said that he had failed to pursue further education due to lack of school after completing S4, until the director of the home offered to support him to learn Islamic studies.
This is not the first time security is raiding children’s homes and Islamic centres in Luweero. In June this year, the Police and army raided Walusi hill at Kireku village in Kikyusa sub-county, forcefully disbanding a group of 70 people who were allegedly studying Islam. Police detained the leaders of the group for a week on allegations of radicalising their followers but none was prosecuted.
In September 2021, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and Police raided Markaz Ibun Hajarai School in Namaliga zone in Bombo town in Luweero district, arresting the Director, Sheikh Uthman Yasin Nsubuga.
During the raid, the officers picked up 50 children who were studying Islam and transferred them to Kyampisi Childcare Centre as Muslims from different corners of the country protested. The children were released when the matter attracted the attention of parliament.
Additional reporting by URN