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May 22, 2008
Businessman wants to return Muslim land
By Shifa Mwesigye

Even before court decides whether the Mufti, Shaban Mubajje, is guilty of fraud, the man who bought the contested Muslim property wants to pull out of the deal.

Drake Lubega, the businessman to whom Mubajje sold the controversial Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) land on plot 30 William Street has offered to sell back the land to the Muslim body.
But UMSC will not hear of it.

Lubega, through his lawyers Semuyaba, Iga and Co. Advocates wrote on April 23, 2008, asking the UMSC to buy back the property.

But Saidi Iga Bukenya, one of the lawyers in the law firm, says that the UMSC refused to receive the letter containing their offer.

The same letter is also asking any interested party in the Muslim community to buy Lubega out within six months, before the offer is made to the general public.
“Our client has carefully considered the prevailing circumstances and the various interests within the Muslim community and has painfully decided to offer you or any other interested party to buy him out,” the letter read in part.

The letter acknowledges that Drake Lubega is the registered proprietor and owner of Plot 30 William Street, which houses a mosque among other things.
The letter also acknowledges that Lubega bought the property from HAKS Express Ltd. of businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba, who is jointly accused with Mubajje and Dr. Edris Kasenene.
“Our client genuinely purchased the property from a willing vendor and he was not aware at the time of any other interest. He was only interested in doing business and not antagonising the Muslim community,” Lubega’s lawyers wrote.

Sheikh Mubajje and Dr. Edris Kasenene are jointly accused of illegally selling UMSC property, including plots 102 and 30 on William Street, and plot 12-16 on Port Bell road to Basajjabalaba.

It is alleged that Basajjabalaba later sold the plots to businessman, Drake Lubega. The trio are charged with fraud and last month the Buganda Road Chief Magistrate, Margaret Tibulya, announced that they had a case to answer.
Two months ago, the anti- Mubajje group in the Muslim community held a meeting in Nakasero in which they agreed to talk to the top Catholic leadership to persuade Lubega out of the deal.

According to a top Muslim leader who spoke to The Weekly Observer on condition of anonymity, the meeting agreed to seek audience with Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala and Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.
“We have established that Drake Lubega is a Catholic. We want to report to them that one of their followers has provocatively bought a Muslim building which also houses a mosque. The demolition of the mosque might ignite a religious war in Uganda,” he said.

Sheikhs Nuhu Muzaata, Hassan Kirya and Ismail Mugomba, some of those bitterly opposed to Mubajje’s leadership, reportedly attended this meeting.
However, the letter is silent about what Lubega intends to do with the other properties he bought from HAKS Express Ltd.

These are Plot 102/104 on William Street and Plots 12-16 on Port Bell road.
His lawyer confirmed that Lubega was only selling plot 30 on William Street.

Mubajje in court

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mubajje and his co-accused are back in court this week to answer charges of fraudulent disposal of trustee property, making documents without authority and conspiracy to commit a felony.

According to legal sources, Sheikh Mubajje might not take the stand to defend himself. The source says he prefers court to decide the case based on evidence adduced by the prosecution. Meanwhile, the anti-Mubajje group have begun circulating Lubega’s letter as proof that the Mufti sold UMSC land which Lubega now wants to sell back to Muslims



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