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Government headed for confrontation with Muslims over cemetery on disputed land

By Ignatius Odongo | Published Fri, August 31st 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 31st 2018 at 11:30 GMT +3

Chair of Imams in Busia county Sheikh Ramadhan Musa addresses media on August 21st during Idd-Ul-Adha marked at Busia Stadium where he urged with county to provide them with land and make public cemetery. [Photo: Ignatius Odanga/Standard]

The national government is headed for a confrontation with some Muslims over a burial ground.

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County Commissioner Jacob Narengo has blocked burials on a piece of land in Maduwa, Matayos constituency, along the Kenya-Uganda border.

However, the Muslims have vowed to disobey the directive and continue using the cemetery until they get alternative land from the Government.

Mr Narengo, who is also chairman of the county security committee, said land was a devolved function, therefore, the county government was obligated to provide a cemetery for Muslims.

Planned lawsuit

“There is a Gazette Notice that set that land aside as a security zone. It does not belong to the county but to the national government,” he said last week.

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Busia Imams chair Ramadhan Musa said they would continue to bury people on the same land until they get an alternative burial ground.

Sheikh Musa accused the county government of taking them for a ride and remaining non-committal about resolving their problems, adding that they were planning a lawsuit.

“The defunct local authority gave us that land a long time ago and we have been using it to bury our beloved ones. But now the government has banned us,” Musa told journalists during Idd-ul-Adha celebrations at the Busia Stadium on August 21.

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He added; “We have written to the county government several times asking them to provide us with land to make a cemetery but nothing has been forthcoming.”

Filled up

Burumba ward representative Moses Ochieng’ said there was need for the county to urgently resolve the cemetery issue.

“We respect the directive from the county commissioner but where else do they want us to bury our people now that we do not have another place?” Mr Ochieng’ asked.

Currently, the county does not have a public cemetery after facility that was located in Mabale filled up more than 10 years ago.

Christians have been paying private individuals to be allocated space on their land to bury their relatives.

According to the Chief Officer for Lands Maurice Odundoh, the county is in the process of searching for ideal locations to set up cemeteries.

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