The gruesome murder of Sheikh Hassan Kirya, the spokesperson of the Kibuli-based muslim faction on Tuesday this week has shuttered the confidence of Muslim community from believing that the government still has the ability to protect them.
Sheikh Kirya was assassinated at Kireka, a suburb of Kampala at around 10pm by someone who was travelling on a bodaboda. The Police says that four other people were shot by Kirya’s killers as they fled the scene on crime.
Sheihk Kirya joins a growing list of Muslims who have been gunned down by people travelling by boda boda. They include, Shiite Leader Sheikh Dactoor Muwaya of Mayuge, Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga who were both killed around Christmas last year.
Other top muslim cleric Sheikh Abdul Karim Ssentamu and Hajj Abubaker Kiweewa were killed in 2012.
Sheikh Abdulrashid Wafula, the Imam of Bilal Mosque in Mbale Town was gunned down on May 21.
But beyond the shock that Kiirya’s death brings, many Ugandans are expressing anger and disappointment about the failure by the government especially those in security agencies, not only to protect the lives of people, but also their failure to fully investigate the mystery behind the killings and the bring the killers to book.
Sheikh Obed Kamulegeya, the head of the council of Sheikhs in Uganda denounced government’s failure to protect a section of its people.
Kamulegeya told mourners: “It seems government and security agencies have failed to protect us. It is you muslims to to do whatever you can to protect yourself.”
Ramathan Ggoobi, a lecturer at Makerere University Business School posted on twitter: “Who’s killing #UgandanMuslims & other people? Why no one seems to care? Where’s the police investigations progress report? #AmAnnoyed,” The hash sign is part of social media lingua to symbolize trending topics.
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago denounced the failure by Kayihura to do his job of protecting the lives of Ugandans.
Lukwago said: “Gen. Kayihura assured the Nation that they had provided security to all Muslim leaders; what really happened? Were the bodyguards also killed? Inna lillahi wa inna illaihi rajihoon.”
But while at Kibuli this week to mourn the third Sheikh killed with a gun in less than a year, Kayihura sounded helpless and remorseful.
Kayihura told Kirya’s mourners this week “I am tired of coming here every time and give promises. Please do not throw missiles at us because we have tried our best.” In effect, Kayihura admitted he had failed to bring those killers to book. Government critics however say that Kayihura’s own admission is sufficient evidence that he has failed and should resign.
The deepening mystery about who is killing Ugandan muslims adds to concerns about the country’s growing state of insecurity and sentiments that prevailing peace is unsustainable.
The killings of Muslim sheikhs, has given currency to views that the successive murders being carried out is meant to create an environment where Ugandans get used to assassinations as a normal occurrence like corruption.
Erias Lukwago on the other hand rejected the argument made by Kayihura that the solution is to lift the premise of innocence in order to bring the killers to book.
Lukwago said: “Gen. Kayihura attributed his dismal failure to reign in the perpetrators of these mysterious killings to, among other things, the bill of rights that entrenches in our criminal justice system the presumption of innocence until one is proved guilty before an independent court.
“This talk is nothing short of a regurgitation of President Museveni’s rhetoric intended to rationalise violation of civil liberties. It’s a given that the evil-minded individuals behind these heinous crimes have left our hearts bleeding, but Ugandans should not be blindfolded by disingenuous leaders to surrender their rights,”said Lukwago.