The Muslim Parliamentary Caucus has demanded the unconditional release of Sheikh Yahya Mwanje, the Deputy Head of the Jamatil Salafiya Dawatil Tablique.
Led by Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP, the Muslim legislators addressed a press conference at parliament on Monday where they condemned the 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 Chairperson of the Muslim Parliamentary Caucus.
The other legislators included 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. Basalirwa wondered why the Muslim religious leaders are picked without following the legal process and detained incommunicado.
Basalirwa said that keeping people incommunicado 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,” Basalirwa added.
He demanded that Mwanje and other religious leaders held illegally be unconditionally released and allowed to access their lawyers, doctors, and families. Basalirwa 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 that they are not against 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,” said the Mukono North MP. Kiwanuka demanded 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 Tablique Muslim community Shk. Yunus Kamoga called for calm among the Muslim faithfuls following the arrest of Sheikh Mwanje on Monday 28th, November.
While addressing the press at Nakasero Mosque in Kampala, Shk. Kamoga reported that Mwanje was picked up from outside the mosque by gunmen driving a Silver Grey Toyota Hiace commonly known as a Drone registration number UPM 187E. He then said that they were yet to find out his whereabouts and the reason for taking him.
Kamoga reported that 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 Yahya Mwanje is one of the suspects in the murder of Major 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.
Shk 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 26th, 2016 at Masanafu Trading Centre in Lubaga Division.