Freed Uamsho clerics narrate 8-year ordeal behind bars

Thursday June 17 2021
sheik pic

Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed answers journalists’ questions in Zanzibar yesterday after terrorism charges against him and 35 other Muslim clerics were dropped. They were freed after spending eight years behind bars. PHOTO | HAJI MTUMWA.

By The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. Shortly after their release from remand prison, Muslim clerics recounted the ordeal that they had gone through during the past eight years - but thanked President Samia Suluhu Hassan for their release.

Two top leaders of the civil society group known as the Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation, (commonly known in Swahili as ‘Uamsho’ (Awakening) - were freed on Tuesday night after eight years in detention.

Sheikhs Farid Hadi Ahmed and Msellem Ali Msellem were released after the director of public prosecution, Sylvester Mwakitalu, dropped all charges against them.

Uamsho had had friction with the governments of both Tanzania and Zanzibar for using its religious platform to advocate policy changes.

Their release comes after several religious leaders across the country had called on President Hassan’s government to exercise its ‘wisdom’ in dealing with the suspects, with some appealing directly to government leaders to prosecute or release them.

Speaking at his mother’s home at Beil in Zanzibar, Sheikh Farid said they had been victimised during the past eight years but said he was thankful that they had finally walked to freedom.

sheik pic

Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed answers journalists’ questions in Zanzibar yesterday after terrorism charges against him and 35 other Muslim clerics were dropped. They were freed after spending eight years behind bars. PHOTO | HAJI MTUMWA.

“There is no one who can repay the tears of my mother, those of my kids, those of my wife and those of my own…There is no one who can repay my own dignity because sometimes, we had to be interrogated while naked but finally, wisdom had prevailed,” he said.

During the eight years that they spent been behind bars, Sheikh Farid said, they lost millions of shillings through the collapsing of their business. “We now have to start from the scratch… It is good that the government has finally seen that it is wisdom that builds peace, love, patience, compassion and human dignity in a country,” he said. He asked for Tanzanians to keep praying for national leaders, saying they were going through difficult moments that require calmness and a lot of wisdom.

He said there were a lot of shortfalls, characterised with the use of massive force, in the way the suspects were being interrogated, hence the need for change.

“Wisdom must be there for peace to prevail… We are thankful to God for his powers and to all citizens for their prayers…We thank President Hassan and President Hussein Mwinyi...,” he said describing President Hassan as more than a mother.

“She has been an exemplary leader who did not want to carry the burden for which she would have no answers before her God,” he said, detailing how his plea to have their case heard during the reign of former Presidents Jakaya Kikwete and the late John Magufuli fell on deaf ears.

According to Sheikh Mselem, the team had been set free on condition that should they commit crimes, they may be rearrested on similar charges as those that had just been dropped. The duo and their 34 co-accused were facign charges of getting involved in terror offences contrary to section 27(c) of the prevention of terrorism Act 2002.

Meanwhile, in an indication that the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has been busy during the past few weeks in an attempt to reduce the backlog of cases, the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday ordered a director-cum-owner of Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL), Harbinder Singh Sethi, to pay Sh26.9 billion in compensation to the Tanzania government.

This came after he pleaded guilty – under the plea-bargaining arrangements – in a case where he was being accused of earning $22.199 million and Sh309. 461 billion through deceit.

The court also issued a one year suspended jail sentence to Mr Sethi during which he should refrain from involvement in any criminal offense.

Under economic sabotage case number 27/2017, Mr Sethi paid Sh200 million and pleased that the remaining would be paid in the next 12 months from yesterday.

Mr Sethi also has submitted the IPTL power plant and his Kunduchi Salasala plot as sureties until he completes paying the compensation.

In another economic sabotage case (number 12/2016), the DPP withdrew a bond restraining order against former Reli Holdings Company (Rahco) managing director Benhardard Tito; the company’s lawyer Emmanuel Massawe and South African Rothschild Proprietary Limited representative Kanji Mwinyijuma.

The trio were facing eight charges, including occasioning loss to the government to the tune of $527,540 which is equivalent to Sh1.2 billion.

The trio spent almost six years since issuance of the order by former DPP Biswalo Mganga.