20th October 2020
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Muslims renew calls for restoration of ‘stolen’ lands

Author: Emmanuel Joseph Akile | Published: Friday, July 31, 2020

Sheikh Juma Ali at Eye Radio studio on July 31, 2020. PHOTO//Lin Nelson/Eye Radio

The former Presidential Advisor on Islamic Affairs says some pieces of land grabbed from the Islamic Council have not been returned, as ordered by President Salva Kiir in 2018.

Sheikh Juma Saied revealed that most of these lands are located in Konyo-konyo in the capital, Juba.

During Eid al-Fitr in 2018, President Salva Kiir vowed to give back land stolen from the Islamic Council.

The Muslim community have raised complaints about its properties, especially in Juba town, Malakia and Konyo-konyo.

According to the Islamic Council, some of the pieces of land were grabbed after the independence of South Sudan.

On the occasion of the Eid al Adha today, the Islamic Council reiterated its call for the stolen properties to be returned.

Eid al Adha is a religious holiday which corresponds with the height of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that annually draws two million Muslims, but this year only 10,000 people travelled their due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It commemorates when God appeared to Abraham — known as Ibrahim to Muslims — and asked him to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience.

As Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son, God stopped him and gave him a sheep to kill, in the place of his son.

Muslims occasionally use the day to offer gifts to the less fortunate.

Sheikh Juma Ali Saied says such activities can be facilitated well if Muslims restore their stolen properties and use them to support the community.

“At the end of the day we are going to help each other as South Sudanese, we are supporting orphans and widows regardless of whether they are Muslims or Christians, we are helping everyone,” he said. “On this day we want to meet, talk and chat with the widows and children of martyr’s to tell us more about their loved ones.”

Two years ago, President Salva Kiir responded to such appeals from the Muslim community.

“I promise you that the grabbed pieces of land that belong to the Muslim community will be returned to you. I direct those responsible for the implementation of this directive to act immediately,” Kiir ordered.

“… those properties must be returned to you.”

However, Sheikh Juma Saied said their lands are still being occupied by the grabbers.

“We have endowments at Konyo-konyo market dated back to 1966s…it was called a religious institution centre. Even the Muslims cemetery was supported by people from outside the country as well as Juba scientific institute. We have many Islamic institutions and schools but people want to grab them,” Sheikh Juma told Eye Radio’s Dawn program.

He added that there is still a dispute with the Juba City Council over the Konyo-konyo market

“They claim that some of our plots belong to them and yet we have our original documents.”

According to the transitional constitution, all land in South Sudan is owned by the people and its usage shall be regulated by the government.

It says community land shall include all lands traditionally and historically held or used by local communities or their members.

The constitution further stipulates that communities and persons enjoying rights in land shall be entitled to prompt and equitable compensation on just terms arising from acquisition or development of land in their areas in the public interest.

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