The late Sheikh Wafula at one of the Mosque construction sites in Mbale. (Courtesy photo)

The late Sheikh Wafula at one of the Mosque construction sites in Mbale. (Courtesy photo)

Sheikh Abdul Rashid Wafula was reportedly gunned down at about 9pm local time on Thursday as he returned to his home in Kireka Cell, Nakaloke Town Council, according to the police spokesman, Fred Enanga.

Sheikh Wafula, the Imam of Bilal Mosque in Mbale, has also been the director of Nakaloke Islamic Primary and Secondary Schools that offer both theology and secular education.

Family sources revealed that he was shot five times in the chest and died as he was being rushed to hospital.

A strong team of police investigators have swung into action to apprehend the culprits and so far nine people had arrested and detained at Mbale police station.

The suspects include a Local Council chairperson and Wafula?s brother who have been pointed at as being part of a large group of accomplices.

Enanga identified some of the suspects as Mude Muhammad, the LC1 chairperson for Kireka Cell in Nakaloke, the deceased?s brother Asuman Wafula, Twale Wabomba and Muhammad Ali, all residents of Nakaloke Town Council in Mbale.

Identities of five other suspects had not been obtained.

?Not yet conclusive?

Five other suspects were later picked by the police after eye witnesses and other police leads pointed at them for being involved in the plot to kill the Muslim leader.

Enanga said the police had intensified the investigations and said they were optimistic that all the killers would be brought to book.

He pointed out that early investigations suggest that the cause of murder could be the height of a longtime family land feud and sharing of financial donations from abroad.

?Preliminary information coming in indicates that there has been a pronounced land dispute among family members, although this is not yet conclusive.?

According to Enanga, the deceased had been receiving donations from a Muslim sect abroad, which became a source of conflict from the family and other followers.

?We are following leads that distribution and utilisation of these donations could have caused a rift amongst Muslims in Mbale.?

?Very active and dedicated?

The police picked the corpse and took it to Mbale Hospital for a post mortem and recovered two bullet cartridges from the scene and that would be used in further investigations.

The Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) condemned the killing of Sheikh Wafula, whom they described as a ?very active and dedicated member of UMSC who has served Islam in different ways under different capacities?.

?Innaa Lillaahi Wa inna Ilaihi Raajiuuna,? was a message that accompanied a statement from UMSC forwarded by Hajji Nsereko Mutumba, the spokesperson.

Mutumba said Sheikh Wafula, a graduate of the Islamic University of Madina, has been the officer in charge of Daawa and a member of the College of Sheikhs (Majilis Ulama) at Bugisu Muslim District Council.

?He has also been attached to the Saudi Cultural Center as a Da?e (Preacher) as well as the Head Imam of Masjid Bilal in Mbale town?.

Islam at heart

He said Wafula?s work as a Da?e is visible in Eastern and Northern Uganda where he established several Mosques and Darasas?.

He said the cleric was involved in supporting orphans and Muslims in need.

?We have lost one of the most dedicated Sheikhs who had Islam and his country at heart. May Allah forgive him and reward him with Janna Firdaus,? Mutumba said.

According to Mutumba, burial was scheduled for Friday at Kireka in Nakaloke Town Council along the Mbale ? Soroti Road at 400pm local time.

Another prominent Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mustafa Bahiiga was shot dead in December last year while at Bwebajja Mosque on Entebbe road where he had gone for prayers, while another Sheikh, Abdul Kadir Muwaya was gunned down at his home in Mayuge district.

In 2012 two other prominent Muslim leaders, Sheikh Abdul Karim Ssentamu and Hajj Abubaker Kiweewa were gunned down in similar manner.

The police linked the killing of Muslim leaders to the Allied Democratic Forces led by Jamil Mukulu who was recently arrested in Tanzania.

By Eddie Ssejjoba, The New Vision

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