The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has raised the alarm over the emergence of a deadly Islamic group, “Gausiyya” in Markafi Local Government Area of the state.
Mr. El-Rufai made this known in a radio interview on Saturday, while justifying the need to regulate religious activities in the state.
The governor had weeks ago forwarded the Religious Regulation Bill, 2016, to the state House of Assembly, a situation that pitched him against religious leaders and rights activists across the country.
The proposed law seeks to regulate religious activities, especially preaching, and to provide sanctions for its violation.
The leader of the Omega Fire Ministry, with headquarters in Auchi, Johnson Suleman, is one of those accusing Mr. El-Rufai of trying to use the law to intimidate the Christian faithful in the state.
In a sermon in Auchi, Apostle Suleman had directed the governor to do away with the proposed law or die.
“Revoke this law or die,” the clergyman said while preaching to his congregation.
By initiating the bill, he said the governor had drawn a battleline with God and would pay dearly unless he backed down.
But as part of measures to educate Kaduna people on the intent of the bill, Mr. El-Rufai, in a radio interview on Friday, said there was a security report of an emergence of a dangerous Islamic group in the state.
“We had a security report that a new Islamic organization called GAUSIYYA is springing up in one of our local government areas, precisely Makarfi,” the governor said.
“After studying the group’s activities, we understand that it is not a sect that we should allow to stay in our state. They preach contrary to the teachings of Islam and are gradually recruiting youth in the name of religion.
“We have decided to stop the group and their activities before they grew and become a problem for the state. Negligence is what brought about the Maitatsine in the 80’s and the Boko Haram insurgents we are now fighting.”
To curtail the excesses of the growing sect, Mr. El-Rufai said his government came up with the proposed law to regulate religious activities in the state.
“The state government will not be responsible for issuing any license to preaching bodies or a new preacher who just surfaces,” he said.
“A committee that will consist of clerics nominated by the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, will issue religious bodies permits depending on their faith.
The governor said the government would welcome further suggestions on the bill, currently before the state assembly.