Muslim Clerics to Return Armed Escorts to Police

1919 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Sheik Nuhu Muzaata made the comments during a gathering at Kibuli Mosque this evening as hundreds converged for special prayers in memory of Maj. Muhammad Kiggundu, a Muslim cleric, and UPDF officer who was shot to death by unknown assailants this morning.

Muslim Clerics on an alleged assassin hit list have resolved to return all armed escorts given to them by the Uganda Police Force.

Sheik Nuhu Muzaata Batte, the director of Dawah at Kibuli mosque said the armed escorts are a threat to their security, and not a guarantee that they will not be attacked.

"Almost all people on the hit list have been killed, yet those with armed protection are brutally eliminated. I can stand two gunshots but not ten," Muzaata said as hundreds converged at Kibuli Mosque for special prayers held in memory of Maj. Muhammad Kiggundu, a Muslim cleric and UPDF officer who was shot to death by unknown assailants this morning.

Maj. Kiggundu was killed together with his guard Stephen Mukasa while heading to Pearl FM, a Muslim founded broadcast station in Old Kampala where he run a weekly programme.

The armed guards were attached to the clerics by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kale Kayihura at the height of attacks against Muslim clerics in the country.  At the time, a number of prominent leaders on the alleged hit list had been eliminated through gunshots.

The clerics on the alleged hit list include the first deputy Supreme Mufti Sheikh Muhamood Kibaate, Sheikhs Swidiq Ndaula, Haruna Jjemba, Najib Ssonko, Yasin Kakomo, and Prince Kassim Nakibinge Kakungulu.

The escorts were tasked to protect the clerics and guard their offices. But Muzaata alerted police that the escorts would be returned by Monday November 28, 2016 and alerted all persons on the hit list to find other means of protecting their lives.

However, Police Spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi, speaking to the same gathering, said the clerics do not have any mandate to dismiss the armed guards. Speaking in Luganda, Kaweesi said the responsibility to protect clerics rests on the state.

"You may not like them but state cannot take them away.  If anything happens in their absence, the state would have failed in its mandate to protect you," Kaweesi told the clerics.

Over the past three years several clerics have been shot under similar circumstances. They include Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, the Kampala District Amir, who was shot dead along Entebbe Road and Abdulkdir Muwaya who was killed in Mayuge.

A few months after the attachment, another Cleric Ibrahim Hassan Kirya was gunned down in Bweyogerere, a suburb of Kampala. Sheikh Haruna Jjemba, the Amir of a sect that broke away from the mainstream Tabligh faction has previously survived an attempt on his life.

However, Gen Kayihura has over the years stated that ADF insurgents, among others, were responsible for the killings while others blamed the wave on an ideological struggle within the Muslim community resulting from fights over Muslim properties.


About the author

Sylvia Nankya
Sylvia is an Editor and Media Trainer with Uganda Radio Network. She has been a URN staff member since 2013. Sylvia has previously worked as a reporter and news anchor with Radio One (2001-2009) and with Vision Group (2009-2011). Six of her active years in Journalism were spent covering the Parliament of Uganda.

Over the past few years, Sylvia has worked to promote the positive development of societies recovering from conflict through training journalists on choices of stories, how they report issues and use of appropriate language in covering conflict and post-conflict situations.

She is an Alumni of RNTC- Holland, Les Aspin Centre for Government at Marquette University-WI, USA and a Community Solutions Fellow.