Police in the central district of Luweero have rescued 35 learners attending Islamic studies at an illegal school in Nanywa village, Nyimbwa sub-county.
The children were transferred to Luweero Central police station. Twenty-four of the learners are children under the age of 18, while 11 are above the age of 18. The learners were mobilized from the districts of Yumbe, Kabarole, Jinja, Wakiso, and Kampala.
Some of the learners were found sharing accommodations with goats, whereas others slept on the floor in congested rooms in a residential house. The Savannah Regional Police spokesperson, Patrick Lule, said they were tipped off by intelligence reports.
He said when police visited the home last week, they found the learners sleeping in unhygienic rooms, which exposed them to infections.
According to Lule, they decided to transfer the minors to the Luweero Child Reception Center, which is run by the Police Child and Family Protection Unit, while they search for their parents, and the adults have been directed to record statements to assist police investigations.
Lule said the owner of the home, Habib Abdullah, is still abroad, but his wife, who was in charge, has been arrested to answer charges of operating an illegal home. Richard Bwabye, the Luweero resident district commissioner, announced the home has been closed with immediate effect and the owner must answer charges of operating an illegal home.
“We got reports that the children have been there for some months undergoing religious studies, yet they were supposed to be in traditional schools. We ordered that the children be returned to their parents to enroll in traditional schools and the home be closed,” Bwabye said.
Some of the children told URN that they were transferred to the home by their parents to study Islam, and they were comfortable there until police raided it last week.
One of the learners said he completed S4 but failed to pursue further education due to poverty until the director of the home offered him support to study Islam. This is not the first time security has raided children’s homes and Islamic centers in Luweero.
In June of this year, police and soldiers raided Walusi hill in Kireku village, Kikyusa sub-county, and forcibly disbanded a group of 70 people who were allegedly studying Islam. Police detained the leaders of the group for a week on allegations of radicalizing their followers but released them without charge.
In September 2021, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and police raided Markaz Ibun Hajarai School in Namaliga zone in Bombo town, Luweero district, where they arrested the director, Sheikh Uthman Yasin Nsubuga.
During the raid, the officers picked up 50 children who were studying Islam and transferred them to the Kyampisi Childcare Center, drawing protests from Muslims. The children were released when the matter came to the attention of parliament.