Sixteen people were injured when the police moved against a “heretical” Islamic sect which refused to accept state authority and practised wife-swapping. Abdullahi Zuru, a spokesman for Governor Adamu Aliero of Kebbi State, said that six policemen had been injured when sect members attacked them with machetes, and that 10 suspects were hurt in a subsequent raid.
Some 20 followers of the Yan-Gwagwarmaya-”People committed to Struggle” in Hausa – were arrested after Wednesday’s clash, including the sect’s leader, Sanusi Makera Gandu, he said. “I’m happy to say that we have nipped this heretical group in the bud, because they’re a small bunch and now that their leader has been arrested everything seems to be over,” Zuru said, in a telephone interview.
“As a state that practises Sharia (Islamic law) we cannot allow this group to abuse Islam. This group has many weird beliefs that contradict Islamic tenets,” he explained. According to the spokesman, the Yan-Gwagwarmaya had been driven out of the state capital Birnin-Kebbi last year, but had since set up an “enclave” at Unguwar Takalau on the outskirts of the town.Local Muslims had been offended when Gandu dubbed a structure in the camp the Ka’abba, after Islam’s most holy site of pilgrimage in Mecca. “They also believed in exchanging their wives among themselves,” Zuru said.
A small delegation of policemen had been sent to meet the group on Wednesday but were set up with knives and machetes. All six were admitted to hospital with serious injuries, Zuru said. A larger group of officers then moved in to arrest the sect and orders were sent out to outlying districts for its members to be rounded up. Ten sect members were injured, Zuru said, but he could not say how seriously.