Grieving Muslims stood in groups outside Kibuli mosques discussing yet another gruesome killing of one of their clerics - Sheikh Maj Muhammad Kiggundu.
Kiggundu, a member of the management committee at the Kibuli-based faction of Muslim leadership, was gunned down at about 7am on Saturday at Masanafu in Lubaga division, Kampala.
He was driving to Pearl FM, an Islamic radio at Old Kampala where he hosts a weekly show, Mimbar (Pulpit) special, with Sheikh Umar Swiddiq Ndawula, another of Muslim clerics said to be on a killers’ hit list. Kiggundu is the 14th sheikh to be killed mysteriously by gunmen riding on boda boda motorcycles.
His death came a month after he circulated an audio on social media accusing Sheikh Yahya Ramathan Mwanje, the acting Amir of the Nakasero Salaf group, of spreading accusations against him (Kiggundu) and Prince Kassim Nakibinge, the titular head of Muslims in Uganda.
In the audio, Kiggundu challenged Mwanje to produce evidence or both invite their families to publicly invoke Allah’s curse against the liar amongst them. He also staked Shs 10 million for Mwanje to bring evidence to prove his claims.
“Just a week back, they gave a sermon at Nakasero mosque in which they listed four people whom they said are the worst in this country. The list had the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, Prince Nakibinge, Kiggundu and me,” Ndawula told mourners at Kibuli mosque.
Ndawula and businessman Sheikh Habiib Kagimu claimed that the Nakasero preachings and the social media audio messages were linked to this killing.
“Increasing the number of guards around the clerics and Prince Nakibinge won’t stop the killings,” said Kagimu, who was part of the government team that talked to a group ADF rebels that were sent to Sudan in the early 1990s for training.
“Kiggundu was part of the [ADF] that I met them in Sudan and asked them to give up rebel activity. They set conditions which the president [Museveni] accepted and they were integrated into the UPDF,” he told mourners.
Kiggundu went to Sudan after the 1990 attack on Uganda Muslim Supreme Council headquarters by Muslim youths that left some policemen dead.
KAGIMU SLAMS GOVT
Kagimu spoke about his deep connections with the government but said that it was time for the state to admit that it had failed in its duty. This, he said, against a background of harsh criticism against the police that, according to various speakers such as Ndawula, had negligently failed to investigate earlier cases of murder of Muslim clerics.
“We are no longer demanding for answers from the [police]...what else can we say that we didn’t say in the past? Even the government will be surprised if we repeated ourselves,” Ndawula said.
Police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi sat quietly among the mourners as speaker after speaker bashed the police. Until Nakibinge’s intervention, Kaweesi had been told that his message from the police was not welcome.
“The security organs are not sleeping. A lot has been done [and] several arrests have been made, several guns have been recovered and operations are still ongoing,” Kaweesi told mourners.
The police director also shot down calls by the Kibuli Sheikhs to return their police escorts.
“It may not be your wish to have those guards but government has a duty to protect you and if you are attacked without any protection, then that would be negligence on our part,” Kaweesi said.
The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen Katumba Wamala said the army was willing to take up the investigations if the Muslims had lost confidence in the police.
“If you have developed distrust for the police, feel free to come to us [the army]. The people behind the said recordings and preachings can be called for questioning,” Katumba said.
HOW HE WAS KILLED
Like in the previous murders, Kiggundu’s assailants trailed him on two motorcycles. At Masanafu, one of the cyclists overtook him moments before a gunman fired shots on his car’s hind tyres.
In the process, Kiggundu who was driving lost control, veered off the road into a trench. His escort, Sgt Stephen Mukasa was shot several times through the chest before Kiggundu jumped out of the car to surrender to his killers. He was shot instantly and he fell into a nearby trench, according Kaweesi.
Kiggundu’s assailants went with his bag but left his gun and mobile phones. Kiggundu, 52, is survived by 12 children and three wives; a Sudanese, a South Sudanese and Safia Namutebi, popularly known as Maama Fiina, who told journalists that for some time, Kiggundu had been showing her life-threatening messages he was getting on his phone from unidentified persons.
According to the police, Kiggundu had survived three previous attempts against his life. Before his burial on Saturday, there had been disagreements between the UPDF leadership and the Kibuli sheikhs over the conduct of his funeral.
While the UPDF wanted to accord him a state funeral with full military honours, the sheikhs disagreed. After consultations that involved the CDF, Nakibinge and Museveni, it was resolved that the Islamic funeral rituals be respected.