Sheikh Abaasi Nseera, the Imam of Masaka main mosque and three other members of his congregation have been remanded to prison for assault and inciting violence against worshipers.
Abaasi Nseera, together with Hakim Nseera, Farouk Mulumba and Musa Tamale appeared before Masaka grade one magistrate Grace Wakooli, and charged with threatening violence and inflicting bodily injuries on two members of the Muslim community in Masaka.
Tamale is facing another criminal charge of threatening to kill Shiekh Ahmed Kayemba, the Secretary General to the Masaka District Muslim Council.
The offences were allegedly committed on May 26, when the accused persons allegedly connived and caused a scuffle at the mosque, prompting worshipers to assault Sheikh Yasini Kakomo and Hajj Abdallah Nasuru, who they accused of messing up the management of Muslim properties and leadership in the area.
The prosecution led by Masaka Senior Resident State Attorney Priscilla Nyakake told the court that besides mobilizing a mob that pounced on the complainants, the accused persons also physically participated in the assault and caused physical injuries to the victims.
The court heard that the investigations in the matter were completed and that the State was ready to proceed with the trial, which required that the accused persons are kept on remand to expedite the trial process.
As such, the State attorney moved that the court defers the bail applications of the accused persons, to allow them time to examine the substantiality of their sureties.
The accused who were arrested on Wednesday when they had returned to Masaka Central Police Station to seek an extension of their police bond pleaded not guilty to the offences, but the trial magistrate remanded them to the Ssaza government prison facility up to April 26 this year, when they will return to proceed with the trial.
The renewed disputes among the Masaka Muslim Community stem from the apparent power struggles among office-bearers in the Masaka district Muslim council.
It started after the controversial sale of some Muslim properties in the area, last year which was challenged by the faithful and resulted in the emergence of antagonistic factions that accuse each other of dishonesty.
This led to a section of Muslims in the area rising to demand for the suspension of Sheikh Yasini Kakomo, the then custodian on Muslim properties in the area, Sheikh Ahmed Kayemba the General Secretary who alleged were involved in the sale of the properties, that include a two-square kilometre ranch in Sembabule and accountability of revenues collected from commercial buildings in Masaka town.
Sheikh Swaibuh Ndugga, the Masaka District Kadhi was also eventually moved to suspend the implicated officials to allow for the investigations over alleged dishonesty, but his actions instead heightened the misunderstandings after officials declined to step aside, citing procedural inconsistences in the decision taken.
The misunderstandings have since maintained warring factions among the Muslims in the area, and their disputes have metamorphosed into fistfighting and hurling of counteraccusations, a situation that has lately invoked security agencies to directly pick a keen interest in the matters.