The association of Muslim Lawyers has dragged the Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje and businessman Justus Kyabahwa to court over what they described as the fraudulent sale of Muslim property.
In a suit filed at the civil division of the High Court in Kampala, Uganda Muslim Lawyers Association Ltd [UMLAS] argues that the sale of the two square miles of land in Ssembabule district to Kyabahwa; a transaction that has since gone wrong and threatens the auctioning of other Muslim properties including the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council-UMSC headquarters at Old Kampala was contracted corruptly from the very start.
In a suit where UMSC and Hajji Ramathan Mugalu, the former Secretary General of UMSC are also defendants, implores the court to hold that the transaction involving the sale of the Ssembabule land was meant from the very beginning to defraud UMSC of not only that property but also others across the country. “The Plaintiff brings this suit under public interest litigation on behalf of the wider Ugandan Muslim Community whose constitutional right to practice their religion with dignity is being jeopardized and infringed upon by the collaborative fraudulent actions,” the suit reads in part.
It alleges that Mubajje and Mugalu’s decision to sell the Ssebabule land to Kyabahwa constitutes a blatant violation of their fundamental religious function and duty to the Muslim Community in Uganda.UMLAS lists several declarations that they want the court to make. These include that; Mubaje and Mugalu accepting corrupt inducements from Kyabahwa to execute a sales agreement on June 24 2020 in respect to land found on LRV 3693 Folio 12 Ranch No 31A Land at Ssembabule district was a blatant breach of trust and fiduciary duty to the detriment of UMSC and the entire Uganda Muslim Community.
UMLAS also wants the court to declare that the entry into the agreement by Mubaje and Mugalu was ultra vires and illegal as it contained payment of interest [ribah] which is prohibited by sharia law which is the foundational instrument governing the affairs of UMSC. The lawyers also want the court to issue a declaration that the agreement between UMSC and Kyabahwa was orchestrated through collusion, connivance, deceit, fraud, and a premeditated and coordinated scheme involving Mubajje and Mugalu and therefore was tainted with illegalities and was to the detriment of UMSC and the Muslim community.
On June 24th, UMSC acting through Mugalu, Mubaje, and Abdulkadir Idi Balonde, the former chairperson who has since died, sold two square miles of land to businessman Justus Kyabahwa at 3.584 billion Shillings. In the agreement that they signed, they agreed to transfer the ownership of the land to the businessman within 150 days failure of which they would refund the money at 12 percent interest per month.
However, the land already had a 15-year lease with Enterprise Holding Services ending in 2028. Therefore, UMSC was not only unable to transfer the land but also to refund the money leading to its accumulation to the current 19 billion Shillings.
In August, the High Court gave a no-objection order to the attachment of several UMSC properties to enable Kyabahwa to recover his money. Among the property attached include; land at William Street Kampala, land at Old Kampala plot 23 to 25 comprising the National Mosque, land at Kyanja, one square mile of Land at Bukwe, Hoima, one acre of land located at Lubas Road Jinja, Plot of land at Mbale City, Shares in Uganda Ranches Limited and Commercial Holding Ltd, two square miles of land at Migyera in Buluri and plot of land in Entebbe opposite Victoria Mall.
In their suit, the lawyers say that even these court cases that resulted in the attachment are a coordinated and fraudulent litigation scheme orchestrated by Mubajje, Mugalu, and Kyabahwa to legitimize the fraudulent and illegal transaction supported by the sale agreement. The lawyers, therefore, seek a declaration that the agreement is not binding on the UMSC as it is tainted with fraud, corruption, practices, and illegalities and was never executed by the directors/authorized officers of UMSC rendering it null and void and therefore unenforceable.
They also want the court to hold that any liability arising from or loss suffered by any party due to the land sale agreement should be borne by the three defendants and not by the Uganda Muslim Community.
“At the time of the impugned agreement, the land was encumbered with the interests of third parties including but not limited to Enterprise Holding Services Limited whose interests and encumbrances were duly known and acknowledged by the 2nd [Mubaje], 3rd [Mugalu]and 4th [Kyabahwa] defendants in the impugned agreement…The agreement was entered into by the 4th defendant with actual and or constructive notice that the subject land was encumbered and that the 1st [UMSC]defendant was the subject of a subsisting suit in Maska High Court circuit and the 4th defendant induced the 2nd and 3rd defendants with individual corrupt benefits as an investment to offer him a future opportunity exploit the unconscionable terms in the impugned agreement and strip the 1st defendant of its valuable properties,” the suit reads in part.
Having known that the land was encumbered, the suit adds, Mubaje, Mugalu, and Kyabahwa knew too well that the agreement would be impossible to implement. “The impugned agreement was never intended for implementation…given the legal and practical challenges known to all three parties at the time of its execution. Instead, it was meticulously calculated, corrupt, fraudulent and illegal scheme…to unjustly deprive the 1st defendant and consequently the Muslim community of their rightful properties,” the suit reads in part.
It adds that it’s for this reason that Kyabahwa paid Mubaje and Mugalu bribes and kickbacks to agree to an agreement that fetches 12 percent interest per month which translates to 430 million Shillings per month against the Islamic principles against interest. UMSC is yet to file its response to the suit.