A group known as “Yanlabaiku” with membership of about 100 followers which is also preaching against Western education has emerged at Gwadangwaji, the outskirts of Birnin Kebbi, capital of Kebbi State. The group lays claim to Islam and is conducting public preaching, meetings and processions though no violent activity has been attributed to it.
The group’s members are also called ‘Yanlokoloko’ which is one of the names of one of its leaders, Ismaila Lokoloko, who is assisted by one Bala Amadu.
The group is said to be opposed to one of the major teachings of the Islamic religion – the five daily prayers – as it allegedly preaches against offering them as Islam dictates.
Members of the group, which is said to have a slogan that puts belief in their Sheikh above God, are also said to willingly surrender their wives to spend the night with their important visitors especially scholars from the group.
Daily Trust gathered reliably from security sources in the state that the group’s leaders were part of the group that was based in Niger State before it was disbanded by government. Some of the present leaders relocated to Borno and Yobe states while others relocated to Niger Republic where they might have had direct contact with the Boko Haram.
“You might have noticed that their criticism of the five daily prayers which is a compulsory act in Islam is synonymous with the teachings of the sect sacked from Niger State, while the Boko Haram is known to oppose Western education. The issue of sharing their wives with their scholars is a known practice by some sects in the early 70s,” the source said.
When this reporter visited the group’s mosque at Gwadangwaji, behind the PHCN office, some of the members were seen sitting in groups around the mosque. One of the residents of the area, said while talking about the group’s members that, “they sometimes pray two raka’ats and terminate the prayer of three raka’ats saying that Sheikh will complete the rest for them and also that of four raka’ats, only two will be said instead.”
Some residents that spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said, “the group used to converge at Malam Labarasi’s residence in Gwadangwaji. Most of us don’t pray in their mosque. We did not pay much attention to them because until we started seeing journalists and other people coming to ask questions, we never knew them.”
Leader of the 1,600 Kebbi indigenes displaced by the Boko Haram from Borno State and Niger Republic and camped in Birnin Kebbi, Abubakar Gadu, in an earlier interview with Daily Trust said the leader of the Boko Haram group that led the attack on them in Borno State, one Bala is an indigene of Nasarawa area of Kebbi State and also a fish merchant in Doron Baga, Borno State.
When this reporter made attempt to confirm the allegations from the Imam of the group’s mosque, some worshippers at the mosque told this reporter that the imam had been dethroned few days earlier. However, the former imam of the mosque, Muhammadu Danmaihure, 45, who our correspondent met outside his residence near the mosque said he voluntarily resigned as the imam of the mosque about a week ago after serving in that capacity for over 15 years.
“I resigned from my position as the imam of the mosque about a week ago due some misunderstanding between the congregation and I,” he said.
But when pressed further on why he had to shift base completely from the premises of the mosque and the building opposite the mosque where followers of the group converged to preach, Danmaihure said: “I was forced to relocate to the frontage of my house to avoid interacting with the group after several attempts and sermons failed to change the minds of the group’s members on certain ideology they are introducing.
“I am an indigene of Kebbi State and resigned my role after 15 years of serving as the imam of the same mosque few days ago, because the sect kept insisting that after calling prayer, we must not wait for others to pray in congregation. So, I was not comfortable with that decision which resulted into a serious rift that led to my resignation as imam of the mosque,” he said.
When asked if the sect has any similarity with the Boko Haram, why they are observing two instead of the four raka’ats in the afternoon prayer and whether the members actually gave their wives to their visitors, he denied such allegations saying they were not true, adding, “I have also heard of such allegations which I believe are being peddled by people who are opposed to the sects ideology. One can say anything if he is opposed to your religious ideology,” he said.
“I was born and brought up in Gwadangwaji village over 45 years ago and we have been praying five times daily and it is according to Islamic injunction, We have no connection direct or indirect with Boko Haran group up to the time of my resignation as imam,” he stated.
He said the District Head of Gwadangwaji summoned him with a congregation of the mosque for a meeting on Sunday night that lasted up to Monday morning. He said the district head questioned his resignation as imam and asked questions on the recent developments in the mosque.
“I responded to him same as the response I gave to you journalists who came here on the issue. I also told him that, I am not aware of the purported existence of ‘Yanlokoloko’ group. I know Bala Amadu, but I do not know Ismail Lokoloko in this mosque. Bala lives close to our Sheikh’s house in Gwadangwaji. But, as I speak to you, he has moved to a place in Niger State about three months ago where he farms every season,” he said.
Danmaihure said he currently lives with his two wives and 14 children and that apart from the district head and journalists and some other people in town, there was no security agent that visited or invited him for questioning.
When contacted for comments, the District Head of Gwadangwaji, Alhaji Umar Ahmed, denied knowledge of the existence of the sect. But when our correspondent made mention of his Sunday night meeting with the mosque’s former imam, Danmaihure and representatives of the group, the district head shouted: “Why don’t you come and see me instead of questioning me on phone, Malam!” and hung up the call.
When our correspondent returned to his office after the outburst and asked him same questions about the alleged emergence of the sect, the district head first responded by asking our correspondent whether he has seen any of the sects member at the mosque, adding “I can’t tell you anything because as a district head I am not supposed to speak to the press. I am supposed to report to the government. So, if you want to know anything, you should go and ask the government.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Samaila Dabai Yombe, when contacted earlier on phone said all necessary action has been taken by government to checkmate the sect, adding that security agents are already on top of the matter. “Government has sprang into action with a follow up instruction to all security agents to bring down any such body that presents security threats to our people,” he said.
Nevertheless, Kebbi police command denied official knowledge of the sect as the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Nafiu Abubakar, told this reporter on phone that the command was yet to receive official report of the sect, adding, “we have not received any official report of the emergence of the sect. However, we have dispatched some personnel to investigate the claim,” he added.
The premises of the mosque and a building opposite it which used to be a beehive of activities with the followers of the group engaged in lectures and writing on slates few days ago, is seen being deserted during the last visit of our correspondent to the area.
There was also no presence of security personnel at the mosque and the building opposite. It is also not clear if any member of the sect has been arrested for investigation.
About 1,600 displaced indigenes of Kebbi State and victims of Boko Haram attacks in some villages in Diffa State of the Republic of Niger were recently moved to Hajj Camp in Birnin Kebbi.