The Acting Principal Judge has suspended any further implementation of resolutions arising from the contested General Assembly that led to the appointment of Sheikh Abudallah Ssemambo as the Acting Mufti of Uganda.
This suspension awaits the determination of an application by Uganda Muslim Supreme Council seeking to nullify an order resulting in Ssemambo’s appointment.
Lady Justice Alexandra Nkonge, the Acting Principal Judge, issued the ruling on Friday morning. She clarified that while she could issue temporary relief, the full jurisdiction to address all prayers sought by the UMSC in this case was beyond her.
The matter originates from a petition filed by three concerned Muslims—Yudaya Babirye, Burhan Namanya, and Hussein Ssimbwa—against the Uganda Supreme Council (UMSC) at the Jinja High Court. Their concerns centered on the Council’s conduct, particularly regarding the alleged unfair sale of Muslim properties.
On December 12th, 2023, Jinja High Court Judge Farida Shamilah Bukirwa Ntambi granted several orders stemming from this petition. Notably, she directed the convening of a special General Assembly to scrutinize the UMSC’s affairs and report to the court. However, the UMSC contested these orders, leading to their appeal to the Principal Judge.
UMSC argued that the Judge overstepped her powers by granting non-members the authority to convene the special general assembly. They further claimed the assembly violated constitutional provisions for its convening and lacked the required quorum.
The situation worsened when the said assembly held at Ggangu Primary school resolved to suspend Sheikh Ramadan Mubaje, the Mufti of Uganda for six months pending investigations into the alleged mismanagement and appointed Sheikh Ssemambo as Acting Mufti.
UMSC appealed Bukirwa’s order, fearing irreparable losses, business disruptions, and potential unrest within the Muslim community. They also alleged a plot against the UMSC headquarters by the petitioners and their associates.
In response, the petitioners’ lawyer, Luyimbazi Nalukoola, argued against the court’s authority to review the decision, emphasizing that only the original Judge could reconsider it.
The Acting Principal Judge Nkonge ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction to address the prayers sought in the application. She noted that the General Assembly’s resolutions, forming the basis of the application, were mentioned only in an affidavit and not presented by the Assembly members themselves.
Nkonge declined to delve into the application’s merits, preferring to allow respondents an opportunity to file their response. However, she invoked Section 6 of Civil Procedure, granting her the authority to make interim orders.
Consequently, she ordered the suspension of the General Assembly’s resolutions until the same Judge who issued the initial orders reviewed the matter. As a result, she instructed that the file be returned to the Jinja High Court for this purpose.
The UMSC crisis stems from the disputed sale of Sembabule Muslim land to businessman Justus Kyabahwa, a property that was not handed over as previously agreed upon.