Jinja Muslims take Eid prayers to disputed city land

Jinja Muslims take Eid prayers to disputed city land
Jinja City Muslim community observe their Eid Salah on the disputed land

Jinja Muslim community took their dispute over a prime land in the city by the hook, holding Eid al-Fitr prayers right in the muck on the land.

TheĀ Uganda Muslim Supreme Council has been battling it out with Jinja Regional Referral Hospital over prime land on Plot 31 to 39 in Jinja City.

As early as 7am, Muslim faithful had started gathering on the disputed land on Baxi Road for Eid Salah.

The land had been graded with the soil left bare. Here, the Muslims spread tarpaulins and then laid their prayer rugs to observe the Salah.

The Muslim leaders led by Busoga Regional Kadhi Muhammad Bowa vowed not to vacate the contested land adjacent the Jinja Muslim Cemetery and Jinja Hospital.

"We have all the documents, including minutes from Uganda Land Commission giving us this land in 2010," Sheikh Bowa said.

"I want to assure all the Muslims that this land belongs to them."

Sheikha Bowa gives his Eid sermons at the disputed land in Jinja City

He said plans are ongoing to develop the disputed land and called on the Muslim community in Jinja and beyond to contribute towards the development of their property.

"It's not true that we are going to use this land as a cemetery but rather we want to develop it and I implore all Muslims to contribute to this cause," Sheikh Bowa told the congregation.

Jinja District Kadhi Adi Ismail Basoga downplayed a letter from Uganda Land Commission suspending any further developments by the Muslim community on the contested land until an amicable resolution was reached.

"Don't be moved by letters flying about, just know it is a done deal - this land belongs to Muslims," Sheikh Basoga said.

On April 3, Uganda Land Commission summoned management of Jinja Hospital and Jinja District Kadhi to a harmonisation meeting slated for April 17 at the commission offices in Kampala.

The commission also ordered that any construction works on the land be halted until the resolution is reached.

The Muslim community has been erecting a perimeter wall around the disputed plots of land.

Meanwhile, the Muslim leaders accused Jinja City Council authorities of double standards.

They say the city council has been frustrating Muslims who want to develop their land by refusing to approve their plans

Sheikh Edirisa Songolo, a member the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council general assembly, said they have tried to seek approval from city council to develop their land but that their efforts yield no fruits.

"Whenever we go to their offices, they tell us there's pressure on this land, and there are many letters coming from different offices ordering them otherwise, hence they're not approving all our plans," he said.

Sheikh Songolo wondered why the city authorities were suddenly attentive to letters from different offices "yet they were not critical when unscrupulous persons parceled out the contested land".

"Why didn't they stop people who divided this land into 11 plots then?" he asked.

Last month, State Minister for Lands Sam Mayanja visited the disputed land and confirmed that itĀ  belongs to the Muslim community in Jinja.

"I have looked through all the documents and I ascertain this land belongs to Muslims," Dr Mayanja said.

"I will help them acquire all the relevant documents of ownership."

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