The High Court in Masaka has ordered the Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Mubajje, to defend himself over the sale of two square miles of land in Ssembabule district.
Deputy registrar Agnes Nkonge on Wednesday gave Mubajje, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) chairperson Sheikh Abdul Kadir Idi Balonde and secretary general Hajj Ramathan Mugalu 15 days to file their defence in a suit lodged against them by lawyer Musa Ssembajja.
Nkonge also warned that failure by the trio to submit their defence will lead to determination of the matter in their absence, where a judgment could be made against them.
Ssembajja sued the trio seeking a court order, quashing UMSC’s decision to dispose of the property, saying the transaction was illegal.
The land in dispute is situated at Bukiragi village in Ntuusi sub-county, Ssembabule district. Ssembajja said there were no consultations and approval by the respective Muslim district councils of Masaka,
Ssembabule, UMSC executive committee and the general assembly while disposing of the property.
He said the decision of the three defendants to dispose of the property was against the ultra-vires doctrine, or without legal authority. Ssembajja, a resident of KatweButego in Masaka city, said the decision that the defendants took, without consulting the general assembly of about 280 members, a body mandated with administering UMSC property, was improper.
He added that the UMSC constitution establishes Muslim district councils and empowers them to administer the UMSC property in their localities.
“It was wrong not to consult the Ssembabule Muslim district councils and, or remit some of the proceeds from the sale of the land to them,” Ssembajja said.
According to the UMSC constitution, district councils are entitled to 50% of any transaction, while 20% is supposed to be remitted to UMSC headquarters. Ssembajja also said the decision to extend the term of office of the chairperson and secretary general of UMSC, which expired in 2017, without consulting UMSC members and without amendment of the constitution, renders the disposal of the property a nullity.
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