Category Archives: Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim

Kano Hisbah to Prosecute Gossips

Blueprint yesterday carried a story that the Kano Hisbah Board will “prosecute idle people and those trading in the business of gossiping.” If this is true, this will be the harshest and most disturbing action of the Kano hisbah I’ve yet seen. The Hisbah are shari’a “vigilante” groups (as they have a formal function recognized by the state “vigilante” always seems like the wrong word to me–though it seems to be the word most often used by scholars to describe them).

According to Rasheed Oyewole Olaniyi in his 2011 Africa Today article “Hisbah and Sharia Law Enforcement in Metropolitan Kano:”

Hisbah had its origin in the initiative of Islamic groups with the aim of supporting Sharia implementation. Following the reintroduction of Sharia, there was a spontaneous proliferation of Hisbah groups by Islamic civil society. Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso formally launched Hisbah in 2000 as a form of institutional support to control crime and maintain social order enjoined by Islam. The establishment of Hisbah religious vigilantism was part of the Kano State government’s effort to implement Sharia and a response to curb the insecurity and rapidly growing social anomie among youths. (84)

However, Olaniyi notes that initially under the Kwankwaso government, there were inconsistencies in the way the hisbah operated and  two factions developed. In 2003, newly elected governor Ibrahim Shekarau created the Hisbah board:

According to him, section 28, subsection 1, of the 1999 federal constitution empowers Kano State to promulgate a law establishing the Hisbah Board, responsible for general policymaking and coordinating activities between state, zonal and local government Hisbah committees. [...] Hisbah personnel do not have the power to arrest or prosecute culprits; rather they are expected to hand over people found to have violated Sharia law to the police.

The board is meant to engage in activities useful to society such as encouraging sanitation, helping with traffic, controlling crowds during religious services, mediating local conflicts, acting as a sort of neighborhood watch, and so on. I have heard stories of how helpful they have been in providing community security and have seen them directing traffic around mosque time. In keeping with shari’a regulations banning alcohol, the hisbah also regularly destroy alcoholic beverages.

Hisbah with trucks full of confiscated beer (c) Kano Hisbah Board facebook page

However, the board has been involved in quite a few controversies since its establishment. In 2005, a controversy developed when they began to arrest commercial motorcyclists who were carrying women. (See two articles from that time period by Fatima Adamu and Jaafar Jaafar). During my research on Kannywood in 2008-2011, the hisbah also seemed to act as an arm of the censorship board (the director general of which, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, had been the former deputy head of the hisbah), confiscating equipment on film sets they deemed to be operating without permission and arresting filmmakers. As I recounted in an earlier post, “Director of Photography Felix Ebony of King Zuby International recounted how hisbah had come to a location he was working on and impounded four speakers and one camera, telling them they had not sought permission to shoot.” The hisbah also shut down music and fashion shows in the state, and I heard complaints that poor people could no longer have singing and dancing at their weddings as the hisbah would shut them down. (Wealthy people, on the other hand, they told me would just hire police to stand guard at their doors and the hisbah would not be able to enter.) In March 2010, one of my Muslim musician friends called me very upset that his Christian friends in the “Police Band” had been beaten up and arrested by security forces for playing at a Muslim wedding. When Shekarau was running for president in 2011, he denied during an NN24 debate that the hisbah had any problem with the film industry, but these claims seemed rather disengenuous.

When Rabi’u Kwankwaso was voted back in, however, there seemed to be the feeling that such high-handedness was a thing of the past. And since Kwankwaso resumed office, there have been some popular moves by the hisbah. Among what some see as the achievements of the hisbah during the Kwankwaso tenure have been several state coordinated mass marriages  of divorcees and widows.

Brides in the Kano Mass Wedding (c) AFP, Aminu Abubakar

(The Hisbah even have a facebook page created 30 December 2011, though by the time I posted this, it only had 105 “likes.”) This year, however, there have been more reports of extreme pronouncements from the Kano State hisbah.

On July 17, the Hisbah board banned night-time courtship, an old tradition in Hausa culture where a young man will visit a young woman outside her house at night. Such practices are described in some of the early soyayya novels such as Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino’s  In da So da Kauna and Kaico!. In fact this clip of the 1994 film adaptation of the bestselling novel In Da So da Kauna (It sold over 100,000 copies) shows the heroine Sumayya receiving two such visits from suitors at night. (Her second suitor, Muhammad, played by author Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, is more successful than the first one!)

According to Blueprint, 

Director General of the board, Alhaji Abba Said Sufi, who stated this in a terse statement, said the measure was meant to curb open immorality among youths, which the board noted was on the increase.

[...]

Sufi vowed to rid the state of all corrupt vices, stressing, “It is better for government to infringe on its citizens’ right than allow corrupt and un-Islamic behaviour to continue in the state.”

Shortly thereafter, during Ramadan, newspapers began to report that the hisbah was arresting Muslims who were not fasting. (See these articles from Daily Trust, Daily Times, and Blueprint.) While some people saw this as within their jurisdiction as enforcers of shari’a law, others were alarmed by what they saw as an abuse of power. Regarding the ban on night-time courtship, Blueprint reports:

Some respondents who spoke to our correspondent faulted the measure, saying it was against right to privacy as advocated by Islam.

Ahmed Mohammed, a student of Bayero University, Kano, said social visits among the opposite sex had been going on for ages, saying the government had no reason to ban them in a democracy.

He said even if such decision is to be taken, there should be a legislative backing.

According to a later Blueprint article, similar protests were heard against the arrests of non-fasting Muslims:

Some of those who spoke with Blueprint are of he opinion that religion is an issue between a person and his Creator.  Hisbah, therefore, has no power to harass them or force them to fast.

Yesterday, a friend on twitter who had read that day’s Blueprint alerted me to the latest communications of the Hisbah. Although the article has not yet been put online by Blueprint, I share a photo of it here. To be taken to a readable version, just click on the photo and then click on the magnifying glass icon:

Here are a few highlights of the article: According to The Deputy Director General legal matters of the Kano State Hisbah Board, Barrister Nahabani Mohammed, the board had organized “a one-day workshop to educate its personnel and their informants on the way and manner of identifying people whose main business is to sit in a certain corner and gossip.”

Now, read carefully the sorts of things that were seen to be prime evidences of gossip worthy of prosecution:

He said, “You will hear them alleging things like, ‘Do you know the governor had done this and that? Do you know Comissioner A has just bought three new houses?’ Or ‘Do you know that the commander general of Hisbah has just taken a new wife?’ Things like these are what we intend to stop.

Mohammed, who told our correspondent jokingly to rush and pick a form in the Zawarawa mass marriage scheme before widows, divorcees and even young girls became scarce in Kano, askiked, “Of professional gossips and idlers are allowed to sit around and talk about life style of their neighbours, their families, political officeholders and other things they cannot prove or verify, before you know what is happening it will spread fast and create hatred in the society.”

The implications of this are extremely worrisome. While I can understand concern over rumour-mongering in times of crisis, this sort of vigilantism against “gossip” could create a climate of terror of the kind found in a totalitarian-state. Is this about religion or politics?

Look at the examples he gave of “idle gossip.” The hisbah would arrest people for gossiping that a Commissioner “has just bought three new houses” or that “the commander general of Hisbah has just taken a new wife.” Such measures seem designed to stop public protest against abuse of power and corruption among the political class. And in my experience, this is the kind of talk that does preoccupy many ordinary people. It reminds me of what hiphop artist Nazir Hausawa (Ziriums)  told me in February 2009 when then Governor Shekarau authorized destruction of “illegal structures” during a bid to host the next FIFA world youth soccer tournament.

There is a hadith that if you see something haram, you’re supposed to fight it. If you can’t fight it, then you talk about it; if you can’t talk about it, then you feel it in your mind. The way that Shekarau is destroying people’s property right now.[…] People can’t do anything but feel bad in their minds. We, [filmmakers and musicians], are in the middle. We can’t fight, but we can talk about it […] through film.

It seems that even talking about it is now forbidden…

For more information about the history of the hisbah in Kano and implementation of shari’a in Northern Nigeria, see these resources.

Kano Hisbah Facebook page

“Hisbah and Sharia Law Enforcement in Metropolitan Kano:”  by Rasheed Oyewole Olaniyi. Africa Today. 57:4 (Summer 2011), pp. 70-96. (Note that this version is behind a pay-wall, but you can access a free version of an earlier draft of the paper on the IFRA website here.)

Gender, Hisbah and Enforcement of Morality in Shariah Implementing States of Zamafara and Kano in Northern Nigeria” by Dr. Fatima Adamu, at The African Gender Institute

Sharia Implementation in Northern Nigeria 1999-2006: A Sourcebook, edited by Philip Ostien

Recent News on Hisbah

“Kano Hisbah Board to prosecute idlers, gossips.” Blueprint. 24 August 2012

“Kano Hisbah Detains non-fasting Muslims.” Daily Trust, 8 August 2012

“Kano Hisbah Board Nabs 20 for refusing to Fast.” Daily Times. 8 August 2012

“Kano Government Arrests Non-fasting Muslims.” Blueprint, 7 August 2012 (the most detailed of the reports)

“Kano govt bans night courtship” Blueprint. 18 July 2012

“Hisbah Board Plans Mass Wedding for 250 Divorcees” Leadership. 11 June 2012.

“Hisbah officials, others, take wives in Kano Mass Wedding” Daily Trust. 15 May 2012.

“100 women, men get Kano Hisbah mass wedding today” Daily Triumph. 15 May 2012

“Kwankwaso’s security outfit keeps tongues wagging in Kano.” Sunday Trust. 19 June 2011.

“Governor Ibrahim Shekarau on Hisbah, Censorship and Kannywood in the Presidential Debates” by me on A Tunanina, posted 19 March 2011

“Hisbah: In Defense of the Information Minister” by Jaafar Jaafar, Dawodu.com,  2 March 2006

The ‘second coming’ of Kannywood

Still catching up on posts I am behind on. This feature piece  “The ‘second coming’ of Kannywood” was published over a month ago now in the Weekend Magazine of Weekly Trust on 21 May 2011, but gives a good summary of the challenges faced by the Kano film industry during the tenure of former ANPP Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, and the “director general” of the Kano State Censorship Board he appointed, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim. I also interviewed film practitioners about their hopes as PDP’s Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, who had been governor of Kano State from 1999-2003, returns to take up another four year term, aided in his political campaign by the Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria and Kannywood stars like Sani Danja and D’an Ibro. As usual, to read the hard copy of the article, click on the photos below, or scroll down to read the text I’ve copied here.

The ‘second coming’of Kannywood

Saturday, 21 May 2011 01:42 Carmen McCain

Wednesday evening, April 27, 2011, Zoo Road in Kano, the street lined with Kannywood studios, exploded into celebration. Young men pulled dramatic stunts with motorbikes and shouted their congratulations to Hausa filmmakers. “Welcome back home, brothers. Welcome back from Kaduna,” directors Falalu Dorayi and Ahmad Biffa recall them saying. “We embrace you ‘Yan fim.’ We are together with you. We are happy that he has returned.”The win of PDP

Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, incoming governor of Kano State, and also governor from 1999 to 2003 (Photo Credit: Nigerian Best Forum)

candidate Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as governor of Kano, his second tenure after a four-year term from 1999-2003, had just been announced.  INEC figures listed PDP as winning 46% of the vote with 1,108,345 votes, closely followed by Alhaji Salihu Sagir of ANPP with 43.5% of the vote with 1,048,317 votes.  To anyone familiar with the Hausa film industry, which according to recent National Film and Video Censor’s Board figures makes up over 30% of  the Nigerian film industry, this association of a political win with film was no surprise. Some of the most visible Hausa filmmakers have become increasingly politically active following a crackdown by the Kano State Censor’s Board, during which many practitioners and marketers of Hausa films had been fined, imprisoned, and harassed. While many of those associated with the film industry supported CPC and Buhari for president, the feeling among many filmmakers in Kano was that for governor any of the candidates would be better than ANPP. The two term ANPP governor and presidential candidate Ibrahim Shekarau, who had initially been passionately supported by

CIMG2970

Former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, governor of Kano State fro 2003-2011, and ANPP presidential candidate in 2011. (I took this photo during his trip to Madison, Wisconsin in 2007)  (Photo credit: talatu-carmen)

at least some of Kano’s writers and artists, was now deeply disliked by most film practitioners, in part, for appointing Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim former deputy commandant of the shari’a enforcement group hisbah as director general of the Kano State Censor’s Board. Malam Rabo, as he was known, regularly went onto the radio to denounce film practitioners for ostensible moral defects and had overseen a board which often arrested filmmakers.

After surveying candidates in the gubernatorial race for how they would support film, the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), as the association’s president Sani Muazu reported, publically campaigned for Kwankwaso. Movie star,

Comedian Klint de Drunk, with Kannywood stars Sani Danja and Baban Chinedu at an Abuja press conference for NAISOD, 2010. (c) Carmen McCain

producer, director, and musician Sani Danja, who founded Nigerian Artists in Support of Democracy (NAISOD), and comedians Rabilu Musa dan Ibro and Baban Chinedu were among those who lent their star power to the new  governor’s campaign. This public support for PDP among some of the most visible film practitioners had put Kano based filmmakers in danger the week before. Angry about the announcement of PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan as winner of the presidential election, area boys hunted for Sani Danja, threatened other recognizable actors and vandalized studios and shops owned by Kannywood stakeholders. (For this reason, while some filmmakers have come out publicly in support of candidates, there are others who are reluctant to speak openly about politics. The Dandalin Finafinan Hausa on Facebook has banned discussion of politics on its wall, requesting members to focus on discussions of film.) By the next week, however, as Falalu Dorayi relates, the same area boys who had been hunting Sani Danja were now celebrating him.

Producer and makeup artist Tahir S. Tahir with Director Falalu Dorayi celebrating Kwankwaso’s win. April 2011 (c) Carmen McCain

While Governor-elect Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was seen as the champion of the filmmakers during the 2011 election cycle, it was under Kwankwaso, who first served as governor of Kano from 1999-2003, that the first ban on Hausa films was announced and that the Kano State Censor’s Board was created. Abdulkareem Mohammad, the pioneering president of MOPPAN from 2000 to 2007, narrated how in December 2000, the Kano State Government pronounced a prohibition on the sale, production and exhibition of films in Kano state because of the introduction of sharia. MOPPAN  organized and “assembled industry operators in associations like the Kano State Filmmakers association, Kano state artist’s guilds, the musicians and the cinema theatre owners, cassette sellers association” to petition the government to either allow them to continue making films or provide them with new livelihoods. It was the filmmakers themselves under MOPPAN who suggested a local state censorship board, which would ensure that film practitioners were able to continue their careers, while also allowing oversight to ensure that their films did not violate shari’a law. The censorship board was ultimately meant as a protection for the filmmakers to allow them to continue their work.

Outgoing President of MOPPAN, Sani Muazu points out that MOPPAN’s support of Kwankwaso was because he had promised re-establish the original intent for the censorship board, with a Kannywood stakeholder in the position as head of the Kano State Censorship Board, rather than an outsider who did not know the industry. Most Hausa filmmakers speak of the censorship board as a compromise between the film industry, the community and the government. Director Salisu T. Balarabe believes then Governor Kwankwaso was trying to follow the demands of those who voted for him, “If the government wants to have a good relationship with people it has to do what the people want.” Kannywood/Nollywood star Ali Nuhu said, “I won’t forget how in those three or four months [during the ban], they sat with our leaders at the time of Tijjani Ibrahim, Abdulkareem Muhammad, Hajiya Balaraba and the others.  They reached a consensus, they understood the problems that they wanted us to fix and the plan they wanted us to follow.”

Nollywood/Kannywood star Ali Nuhu on set of Armala with Executive Producer Aisha Halilu. April 2011 (c) Carmen McCain

Although the censors board had banned several films, such as Aminu Bala’s 2004 cinema verite style film Bakar Ashana, which explored the moral complexities of the world of prostitution, and enforced rules on censorship

Aminu Bala’s film Bakar Ashana that was banned by the Kano State Censor’s Board in 2004.

before marketing, filmmakers for the most part did not seem to have major problems with censorship until August 2007, when a sex scandal broke out in Kannywood. A privately made phone video of sexual activity between the actress known as Maryam “Hiyana” and a non-film industry lover Usman Bobo was leaked and became one of the most popular downloads in Kano. Alarmed by what some were calling the “first Hausa blue film,” although the clip was a private affair and had nothing to do with other Hausa filmmakers, critics called for serious measures to be taken. A new executive secretary Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim (his position soon

Maryam Hiyana, who was seen as a victim in the scandel, became an unlikely folk hero with stickers of her likeness on public transport all over Northern Nigeria. (c) Carmen McCain, 2008

inflated to the title of director general) was appointed by Governor Shekarau to head the Kano State Censor’s Board. He required each film practitioner to register individually with the board, an action he defended as being provided for in the original censorship law. Not long after Rabo was appointed, actor and musician Adam Zango was arrested and sentenced to three months in prison for releasing his music video album Bahaushiya without passing it through the Kano State Censor’s Board. He was the first in a series of Hausa filmmakers to spend time in prison. Former Kano state gubernatorial candidate and Kannywood director Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama was arrested in May 2008 on his return to Kano from Abuja’s Zuma Film Festival where his film Tsintsiya, an inter-ethnic/religious romance made to promote peace, had won best social issue film. He was accused of releasing the film in Kano without censorship board approval.  Although Iyan-Tama served three months in prison, all charges were recently dropped against the filmmaker and his record cleared. Popular comedians dan Ibro and Lawal Kaura also spent two months in prison after a hasty trial without a lawyer. Lawal Kaura claims that although they had insisted on their innocence, court workers advised them to plead guilty of having a production company not registered with the

FIM Magazine feature on Ibro’s time in prison, November 2008.

censorship board so that the judge “would have mercy” on them. These were only the most popular names. Others who made their livelihoods from the film industry, from editors to singers to marketers, spent the night in jail, paid large fines, and/or had their equipment seized by enforcers attached to the censorship board.

Although Governor Shekarau in a presidential debate organized by DSTV station NN24 had claimed that “the hisbah has nothing to do with censorship,” Director of Photography Felix Ebony of King Zuby International recounted how hisbah had come to a location he was working on and impounded four speakers and one camera, telling them they had not sought permission to shoot. Other filmmakers complained that there was confusion about under what jurisdiction arrests were being made. Although in a February 2009 interview with me, Rabo

Felix Ebony, director of photography with King Zuby International. (c) Carmen Mccain

also claimed that the censorship law was a “purely constitutional and literary law […] on the ground before the shari’a agitations,” the public perception seemed to be that the board was operating under shari’a law, perhaps because of Rabo’s frequent radio appearances where he spoke of the censorship board’s importance in protecting the religious and cultural mores of the society. Director Ahmad Bifa argued, “They were invoking shari’a, arresting under shari’a. If they caught us, we all knew, that they had never taken us to a shari’a court. They would take us to a mobile court [...] But since it was being advertised that we were being caught for an offense against religion, we should be taken to a religious Islamic court, and let us be judged there not at a mobile court.”

The ‘Mobile’ Magistrate Court at the Kano Airport where Censorship Board Cases were tried. This photo was taken in July 2009 during the trial of popular singer Aminu Ala. (c) Carmen McCain

The mobile court Biffa referred to seemed to be attached to the censorship board and was presided over by Justice Mukhtar Ahmed at the Kano airport. After the Iyan-Tama case came under review, the Kano State attourney general found the judge’s ruling to be ““improper”, “incomplete”, a “mistake” and requiring a retrial before a more “competent magistrate.” Justice Ahmed was transferred to Wudil in August 2009; however, censorship cases continued to be taken to him. In January 2011, popular traditional musician Sani dan Indo was arrested and taken to Mukhtar Ahmad’s court, where he was given the option of a six month prison sentence or paying a fine of twenty-thousand naira.  The decisions made by the board and the mobile court often seemed of ambiguous motivation. In 2009, Justice Mukhtar Ahmed banned “listening, sale, and circulation” of eleven Hausa songs, citing obscenity, but obscenity was rarely as easily identified as the cutting political critiques in them.

11 Songs banned by Justice Mukhtar Ahmed. (c) Alex Johnson

The effect of these actions was to relocate the centre of the Hausa film industry away from the flourishing Kano market, to Kaduna. Many filmmakers began to claim their rights as national Nigerian filmmakers, taking their films only to the National Film and Video Censor’s Board, bypassing the Kano State Censorship Board altogether. Such films were often marked “not for sale in Kano” and if found in Kano state were known as “cocaine,” a dangerous product that could, as Iyan-Tama discovered, mean imprisonment for a filmmaker, even if filmmaker had advertised, as Iyan-Tama had, that the film was not for sale in Kano State. Another side effect of these actions was the loss of jobs among Kano youth. Ahmad Bifa pointed out that “the Hausa film industry helped reorient youth from being drug-users and area boys to finding jobs in the film profession. Sometimes if we needed production assistants we would take them and give them money. I can count many that the Hausa film industry helped become relevant people to society. But Abubakar Rabo made us go to Kaduna to do our shooting. So the young people of Kano lost the benefit of film in Kano, […] That’s why there are a lot of kids on Zoo Road who went back to being thugs because of lack of job opportunity.”

Ahmad Bifa, on set of the Aisha Halilu movie Armala, April 2011. (c) Carmen McCain

Although the impact of censorship on film was the most well known, the flourishing Hausa literary scene was also affected, with the director general initially requiring all writers to register individually with the censor’s board. With the intervention of the national president of the Association of Nigerian Authors, writers found some relief when Abubakar Rabo agreed to deal with the writer’s associations rather than with individual writers; however, there still seemed to be a requirement, at times ambiguous, that all Hausa novels sold in the state must be passed through the board. Rabo continued to make often seemingly arbitrary pronouncements about what he considered acceptable literature. In December 2009, for example, at a conference on indigenous literature in Damagaram, Niger, Rabo proclaimed that the board would not look at any more romantic novels for a year.

Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of the Kano State Censor’s Board 2007-2011, proclaimed that he would not accept romantic novels for a year. International Conference on Authors and Researchers in Indigenous Languages, Damagaram, Niger, December 2009. (c) Carmen McCain

Those who protest the actions of the board do not have a problem with censorship so much as how censorship has been carried out. The original MOPPAN president Abdulkareem Mohammad argued that the intention of creating the censorship board had been one that would allow filmmakers to continue doing their work, “We really were doing things in good faith to ensure that things do work and eventually it is for the betterment of the majority.” He acknowledged wryly that there were flaws in the law that allowed for it to be abused, “I think that on insight, I would have done it differently.” Current president Sani Muazu continued in this vein saying that although the board had been meant to protect artists it had “become a weapon against artists.”  Director Salisu T. Balarabe says, “There was nothing wrong with making the censorship board but those put in charge of directing the board, sometimes put a personal interest into it.” Novelist and scriptwriter Nazir Adam Salih acknowledged “We have our faults. This is true. But the censor’s board was much harsher than it

Novelist and script writer Nazir Adam Salih passionately responds to Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, at the conference in Damagaram, Niger. December 2009. (c) Carmen McCain

needed to be. They put someone in power who didn’t know anything about the film industry, Malam Abubakar Rabo, who slandered and disrespected us.” It was this disrespect and the accompanying arrests that most seemed to upset film practitioners. Danjuma Salisu, who is involved in acting, lighting, and assisting production argued that Rabo’s actions were insulting to those whose careers in film “feed our children and parents and families.” Makeup artist Husseini Tupac argued passionately, “Film is a profession. It is a career.  In the same way a normal person will go to the office everyday, we will go the office, we do our work and get paid. When the honourable Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was governor nobody ever came out on the radio and said that actresses were prostitutes, that we were making blue films, that we were rogues. No one came and arrested us.” Producer and director Salisu Umar Santa shared a similar sentiment, saying that he and other

Director Salisu Umar Santa with Dawwayya Productions, April 2011. (c) Carmen McCain

professionals he worked with, like Rukkaya Dawayya and Sadiyya Gyale, had registered and done everything the board required for working in Kano State and yet Abubakar Rabo continued to say that filmmakers were not decent members of society. Producer and Director of Photography Umar Gotip said that he felt like a refugee having to leave Kano. “You are practicing your profession, to the extent that some people even have a degree in it, but they say you are just rogues and rascals. We had no human rights.” Director Falalu Dorayi, claiming that the Kano State Censorship board regularly demanded bribes, asked “How can the one who collects a bribe say he will reform culture.” Cameraman, editor, and director Ahmad Gulu put it this way: “You should fix the leaky roof before you try to repair the floor.”

Despite his ostensible position as enforcer of public morality, Rabo himself came under suspicion of wrongdoing on several occasions. In August 2009, he was taken before a shari’a court by the Kano State Filmmakers Association and accused of slander for statements he had made about the film community on the radio. In May 2010, he was also sued in by Kaduna Filmmakers Association for accusations he had made on radio and television in Kaduna.  In a strange twist, he accused twelve filmmakers, several of whom were involved the lawsuit, of sending him death threats by text message. Police from Kano came to Kaduna, arresting the one person on the list they could locate—Aliyu Gora II, the editor

Editor of Fim Magazine, Aliyu Gora II, and Filmmaker Iyan-Tama, both former inmates of Goron Dutse Prison, after a hearing in Iyan-Tama’s lawsuit against the Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, 22 July 2010. (c) Carmen McCain

of Fim Magazine, who was held for a week without trial at Goron Dutse Prison in Kano.  In an even more bizarre twist, in September 2010, Trust and other papers reported that Rabo, after being observed late at night by police in suspicious circumstances with a young girl in his car, fled from police. In the car chase he was also reportedly involved in a hit and run incident with a motorcyclist. After he was eventually arrested and released by the police, Governor Shekarau promised to open an inquiry into the

Filmmakers on location in Northern Nigeria on Sunday, 29 August 2009, read the breaking news Sunday Trust article: “Rabo arrested for alleged sex related offence” (c) Carmen McCain

case [as requested by MOPPAN], but Rabo continued as director general of the censor’s board and filmmakers heard nothing more of the inquiry.

The treatment of filmmakers had the perhaps unintentional effect of politicizing the artists and those close to them. Sani Danja told me he had never been interested in politics until he saw the need to challenge what was going on in Kano State. A musician told me his mother never voted in elections but that she had gone out to stand in line for Kwankwaso as a protest at how her children were being treated. Filmmakers used fulsome praises to describe their delight at Kwankwaso’s

Kannywood star Sani Danja prepares for his the first press conference of his organization: Nigerian Artists in Support of Democracy (c) Carmen McCain

return. Director Falalu Dorayi said “It is as if your mother or father went on a journey and has returned with a gift for you.” Producer and director of photography Umar Gotip said Kwankwaso’s coming was “like that of an angel, bringing blessing for all those who love film.” Even those who are not fans of PDP told me they wished Kwankwaso well, were optimistic about change, and expected him to fulfill his promises in several areas: First, most of them expected that he would relieve Rabo of his post and replace him an actual filmmaker, who as Falalu Dorayi put it “knows what film is.” Secondly, several of them anticipated actual investments into the film industry “like Fashola has done for Lagos filmmakers,” as director and producer Salisu Umar Santa put it, possibly in the form of a film village. And most Kano-based filmmakers I spoke to mentioned their hopes that others who had gone into exile would come back home to Kano. Producer Zainab Ahmed Gusau, who is currently based in Abuja wrote that, “My thought is to go back to Kano, knowing there will be justice for all.We thank God for bringing Kwankwaso back to lead us.”

Hausa film producer Zainab Ahmad Gusai at the Savannah International Movie Awards, Abuja, 2010. (c) Carmen McCain

Other filmmakers saw it as a time for reflection on how they can improve the field. Director Salisu T. Balarabe mused “If you keep obsessing over what happened, the time will come and pass and you won’t have accomplished

Hausa film Director Salisu T. Balarabe on Zoo Road in the days following Kwankwaso’s win. April 2011. (c) Carmen McCain

anything. We should put aside what happened before and look for a way to move forward.”  Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama, the politician and filmmaker who was imprisoned for three months, focused on the positive, calling on filmmakers to continue making films that would have meaning and would build up the community.

Many also looked beyond the own interests of film to the entire community.

Ahmad Gulu, Kannywood cameraman, editor, and director, on Zoo Road in the days following Kwankwaso’s win. April 2011. (c) Carmen McCain

Ahmad Gulu, cameraman, editor, and director said “The change has not come to film practitioners alone. It has come to the whole state of Kano. Back then people would accept politicians who would put something in their pockets but now things have been exposed.” Star actor, director, and producer Ali Nuhu similarly pointed out that progress was not receiving money from politicians, saying that one of the most important changes Kwankwaso could bring would be a focus on electricity, drinking water, and children’s education. Writer Nazir Adam Salih said that if Kwankwaso could simply fulfill the promises politicians and leaders had been making for the past thirty years to provide electricity and water, he will have done his job. And finally two directors of photography Umar Gotip and Felix Ebony pointed to the need for peace and unity in the state. “He should try to bring people together,” said Umar Gotip. “This kind of fighting that has arisen between Muslims and Christians is not right. We should live together as one.”

Producer Bello A. Baffancy shows off his Kwankwaso support, Zoo Road, April 2011. (c) Carmen McCain

‘Yan Fim on Zoo Road following Kwankwaso’s win, April 2011. (c) Carmen McCain

Governor Ibrahim Shekarau on Hisbah, censorship, and Kannywood in the Presidential Debates

For those who did not see the Nigerian Presidential Debates, between General Muhammadu Buhari, Nuhu Ribadu, and Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, you can watch the debates online, here:

I have transcribed the questions Governor Shekarau was asked regarding the hisbah, censorship, and Kannywood during the debates. Emphasis in red mine:

Timecode: 42:56

Moderator: Now Malam Shekarau, Nigeria is a plural society and yet in the state that you govern, Kano State, the hisbah, which is the morality police, is known to brutally enforce sharia and in the process sometimes trampling on people’s rights as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. How do you reconcile this intolerance with your desire to be the leader of a country as diverse as Nigeria.

Shekarau: Thank you very much. In the first place, I do not agree that the hisbah was brutalizing and overriding the constitutional right of our citizens. We did not just wake up and create the hisbah without going through the legislation.  We used the same constitutional provision that allowed any state to create any policy, any program, any law that will maintain law and order within the state. The hisbah is no more than what today you call community policing. We have the hisbah in virtually every community. Their duty is to ensure there is peace, there is law abiding, and this is exactly what they do. It is those who violate the rules of the land, and we did challenge anyone, whoever thinks that the hisbah has done anything to him contrary to the rules and regulations that rule the land to take his case to the law courts and challenge the creation of the hisbah. So we didn’t just by the wave of a hand create the hisbah, it went through the legislation. There was law promulgated. In fact, the first item on the law of the hisbah is that the hisbah is to assist the Nigerian police in the maintenance of law and order.  (Clapping)

Moderator: Now, you say that but in practical terms the impact of the hisbah in Kano has included killing a film industry that was providing employment, what is known in Nigeria as Kannywood. So there has been an exodus of filmmakers out of Kano, who get harassed when they are on shoots, who have been asked to submit their scripts for inspection, and a total disregard of the people’s rights to express themselves through art in that particular way.

Shekarau: No, I think that is totally wrong. The hisbah has nothing to do with the censorship. We have a full fledged censorship board, created by law through the legislation. And the censorship board has created rules and regulations that govern the conduct of any film industry. We have a right to decide what is right for the community. The government has the moral responsibility to protect the right, the interest, the instant transformation (?) of the society. (Clapping). So all we did, all we did, we said, if you want to register and run a film industry, you should comply with A,B, C, D, F, and we told anybody who feels any of these rules and regulations contradicts the provision of the  constitution of  the Federal Republic of Nigeria should challenge us in court, and nobody has done that anyhow.

Moderator: You seem to be very strong in terms of protecting the rights of the majority. What about the rights of the minority inside the state that you govern.

Shekarau: We are protecting. In fact it may interest you to know that Kano state today is the most peaceful state in Nigeria. If you ask any of the so-called minority or non-indigene, they are quite happy, they are quite peaceful. In fact, today, you will be surprised to find that those you call non-indigenes or even the non-Muslim prefer to go for settlement of disagreement within the community either to the hisbah court or to the censorship board. We don’t have any problem at all. The rules are working. The society has accepted it. The film industry is thriving very well. All we say is abide by the rules and regulations. And there is no community that will live without guiding principles, without rules and regulations and will think that there will be discipline and order in that community.

Although I thought the most impressive performance in the debate came from the moderator, Kadaria Ahmed, who had no qualms with interrupting these “big men” with hardtalk style questions (and would gladly vote her for president if I had a vote), from the feedback I saw on Facebook and Twitter, the majority opinion seemed to be that Governor Shekarau “won” the debate. He did speak eloquently and seemed well-prepared.

However, in terms of his response to the questions above, one might want to keep in mind a few things, and I will focus here only on what I know about the government’s interaction with the film industry, and leave aside the question about the hisbah, whom I’ve heard praised for their intervention in police corruption as well as railed against for alleged “abuses”.

Shekarau claimed :

“we told anybody who feels any of these rules and regulations contradicts the provision of the  constitution of  the Federal Republic of Nigeria should challenge us in court, and nobody has done that anyhow.”

And

“We don’t have any problem at all. The rules are working. The society has accepted it. The film industry is thriving very well.

From my observations of the interaction between the Kano State Censorship Board and the Hausa film industry based in Kano (and, most recently, in Kaduna) for the past three years, these statements, especially the claim that there has been no legal challenge to censorship implementation, are a bit disingenuous. Below find copied a list of blog posts I have written since 2009 on legal challenges that have been made either to the Kano State government, the Kano State Censorship Board, the Kano State police, and or the head of the censor’s board in his personal capacity.

Here are just a few examples.

On 12 February 2009, I posted an interview with Sani Muazu, President of the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria, about the various lawsuits against the Kano Censor’s Board that MOPPAN was involved in. He told me:

Well, you know, we started this whole process of going to court with our case on Hafsah when it was arrested in the market, and we challenged the authority of the Kano Censors Board to do so. We have since then initiated another suit against the Kano Censors Board, as a national body, that is MOPPAN, challenging the legality of the board as well as bringing out the issues to do with conflict between the National Film and Video Censors Board and the state Censor’s Board as enacted by the state assembly. It is interesting that ever since we did that, we expected the Kano State censors board to allow status quo to remain until when these issues were clearly explained by the legal authorities. But the state censor’s board has gone on to arrest our members indiscriminately without any cogent reasons.

On 16 February 2009, I posted another interview with Dr. Ahmad Sarari, the then Vice-President of MOPPAN and brother of the filmmaker Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama. Iyan Tama was at that time in Kano’s Goron Dutse Prison after being sentenced in a mobile court for supposedly illegally selling his Zuma-film festival award winning film in Kano. (Iyan Tama has since been cleared of all charges). In addition to my questions about his brother’s case, which you can read by clicking on the link, Dr. Sarari also spoke about the court cases MOPPAN was involved in:

What principally we needed was an injunction restraining Kano State Censors Board from attacking, harassing, humiliating and imprisoning our members. We dragged four bodies to the court.  One is National Film and Video Censor’s Board for issuing a license to our members which gives them the right to exhibit, to sell, and show their films throughout Nigeria, yet a particular state attacks or arrests them for doing that, and they have not come out and said anything. Is the registration they issue our members fake or does it not have jurisdiction in Kano? So here I’m saying there’s a clash between the national and the state jurisdiction of two boards. What we understand in accordance with discussion with our lawyers is that when there is a clash between state and federal law, the federal law takes precedence, so does the interpretation of that in the court. We dragged the Kano State Censors Board to court for its action. We dragged the DG of the Kano State Censor’s Board for the guidelines he issued out which we believe are quite unconstitutional. They contradict some fundamental human rights because the guidelines are too stringent and are quite unbearable. And we dragged the speaker, Kano State House of Assembly for allowing the section of the law establishing the board which contradicts national law. We need them to review the law. We have to look at the laws establishing the board because most of them contradict national laws.  That’s why we dragged the four of them to the court.

The case was going fine in the court. We brought our evidence. They said we had to exclude the DG of the censor’s board out of the case. Our lawyer vehemently defended that he had to be in. They said we had to include the Kano State government. We said we sued Censor’s Board and the state house of assembly, because the state assembly are the lawmakers, so Kano State Government is automatically included in the case. He slated 26 of October for the final ruling of the case, and unfortunately [Sarari laughs]… there was this strike [of court workers]. They just resumed this month. So we are just urging our lawyer to find which date are they going to give, and we are very much hoping that the ruling is going to go in our favour.

On 27 March 2009, I sat in on a case in which the Federal High Court struck down the objections filed by the Kano State Censorship Board to MOPPAN’s lawsuit.

The last I checked, this lawsuit is still in the courts, two years later.

There have been other lawsuits, such as the one posted by Iyan Tama in a personal capacity over alleged defamation of character by Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, the Head of the Kano Censor’s Board on DITV, Kaduna. The case was settled out of court.

On July 21, 2010, I reported that a lawsuit was filed at a Kaduna State high court:

between the applicants 1. Ashiru Sani Bazanga, 2. Mohammed Rabiu Rikadawa, 3. Aliyu Abdullahi Gora, 4. Sulaiman Sha’ani, 5. Musa Aminu, 6. Jamilu Adamu, 7. Abubakar Sani, 8. Tahir I. Tahir, 9. Tijjani Asase, 10. Yusuf Haruna, 11. Yakubu Lere, and 12. Adam Zango and the respondents 1. Commissioner of Police, Kano State; 2. Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Kano State, 3. Chief Magistrate Court 25 Kano, Kano State; 4. Abubakar Rabo. The applicants are seeking damages of Ten Million Naira as compensation for the “violation of the applicants fundamental human rights.”

The Kaduna lawsuit was filed after Kano State Police were sent to arrest the above named filmmakers on an accusation that they had supposedly sent the DG of the Kano State Censor’s Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, a death threat by text message. Aliyu Gora II, the editor of FIM Magazine, was the only one the police were able to find, and he spent nearly a week without trial in Kano’s Goron Dutse prison, after being transported by police from Kaduna to Kano. The suit was the latest in a series of lawsuits following Rabo’s alleged defamation of the Hausa film industry on DITV Kaduna.

Other Posts, in chronological order, that may be of interest in learning about the relationship between the Kano State Censorship Board and the Hausa film industry:

On the Current Censorship Crisis in Kano, posted13 January 2009

Kano State High Court Chief Justice Postpones Iyan-Tama’s Appeal posted 22 January 2009

2:15am Raid on Iyan-Tama’s Family posted 23 January 2009

Iyan-Tama’s Case Not Listed posted 26 January 2009

Triumph/Trust Editorial Convergences posted 29 January 2009

Interviews with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board, and Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of the Motion Pictures Practitioners Assocation of Nigeria posted 30 January 2009

The Mysterious Asabe Murtala/Muktar Writes Again posted 10 February 2009

Interview with Sani Mu’azu, President of Motion Pictures Practitioner’s Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) posted 12 February 2009

Interview with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board posted 13 February 2009

A Surprising Move by MOPPAN, and my friend Sulaiman Abubakar (MPEG) arrested on Tuesday posted 15 February 2009

Interview with Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of MOPPAN and brother of Iyan-Tama posted  16 February 2009

More Arrests along Zoo Road yesterday, and my article on Iyan Tama makes IPS front Page posted 17 February 2009

Update on the Iyan-Tama Case: Bail Hearing set for 5 March posted 19 February 2009

Updates on the Iyan-Tama case and other articles on the crisis in Kannywoodposted 14 March 2009

Iyan-Tama granted bail, The Judge calls for a new Trial posted 17 March 2009

Raids on a film set last weekend and other developments in “Kano State Censor’s Board vs. Kannywood” posted 24 March 2009

Federal High Court strikes down Kano State Censorship Board’s objections; MOPPAN’s Lawsuit will go on posted 27 March 2009

Mobile Court bans listening to 11 Hausa songs posted 8 June 2009

Recent news on the activities of the Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board posted 24 June 2009

Arrest of singer Aminu Ala and the most recent scuffle of MOPPAN with the Kano State Censorship Board posted 6 July 2009

Breaking News: Singer Ala denied bail posted 7 July 2009

My notes on the court case of Aminu Ala today at the Mobile court attached to the Kano State Censorship Board posted 7 July 2009

Aminu Ala given bail on condition that he does not speak with media posted 10 July 2009

DG of Kano Censor’s Board taken before shari’a court posted 5 August 2009

The latest on the Iyan-Tama case from Nigerian News Service, plus new fees from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board posted 2 October 2009

Kano State Censorship Board shuts down Kano Music Festival hosted at Alliance Francaise, Kano posted 28 February 2010

Update: 3-day international music festival cancelled by Kano State Censor’s Board posted 1 March 2010

French Ambassador rejects the conditions of KS Censorship board for lifting ban on music festival, Punch reports posted 3 March 2010

Arresting the Music. Arresting Hope. Arrested for playing at a wedding “without permission” posted 11 March 2010

Interview with Hiphop artist Ziriums in this week’s Aminiya posted 18 April 2010

FIM Magazine Editor Arrested on accusation of Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of Kano State Censorshop Board posted 4 July 2010

Kaduna State Filmmakers Association take Kano State Police, Court, and DG of Kano Censor’s Board to Court over breach of “fundamental Human Rights”posted 21 July 2010

Iyan Tama takes Rabo to Court for Defamation, and Other Lawsuits posted 18 August 2010

DG of Kano Censors Board Caught in Alleged Sex Scandal with Minor, Sunday Trust Reports, posted 29 August 2010

Press Release from the Motion Pictures Practitioner Association of Nigerian (MOPPAN) Calling for Investigations into the “allegations of  Sex Scandal against Abubakar Rabo,” posted on 31 August 2010

The Latest on the Iyan Tama Case from Nigerian News Service, plus new fees from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board, posted 2 October 2010

Iyan Tama Reaches Settlement with Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board, posted on 17 October 2010.

Iyan Tama reaches settlement with Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board

In breaking news, the Hausa director and former gubernatorial candidate, Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama has dropped his lawsuit for defamation against Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, the Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board in exchange for the board’s dropping of charges against him in a case that has dragged on for almost two years.

Iyan Tama at court in Kaduna, July 2010. (c) Carmen McCain

Iyan Tama called me this afternoon to make sure I had read today’s article by Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu in the Sunday Trust, “My stay in prison was a blessing -Iyantama,” and he wanted me to be sure that I pointed out that although he had been asked about being “convicted months in prison” that he had never been actually convicted. Although the mobile court magistrate judge Mukhtar Ahmad had sentenced him to three months in prison and Iyan Tama had served that time, he had appealed the conviction and, although delayed multiple times, the appeal was heard and upheld. The attorney general of Kano state, according to Leadership reporter Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz:

said the trial was “improper”, “incomplete”, a “mistake” and requires retrial before a more “competent magistrate”.

“I am not in support of the conviction in this trial”, said the attorney-general, “It is obvious that the trial was not completed before judgement was delivered but there and then the presiding magistrate went ahead and delivered a judgement”, he added.

The judge called for a retrial. Again according to Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz in Leadership (unfortunately Leadership has taken down the links to its archives, but I have it quoted here on my blog). Iyan Tama went to a Kaduna appeal court to appeal the retrial, since he had already served three months in prison, and there had been multiple delays. The case was still in court until apparently this week when he reached a settlement with the Kano State Censorship Board, during a hearing for his lawsuit against the Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulakarim, for alleged defamation during an interview with DITV in Kano, in which Rabo apparently claimed Iyan Tama had not registered his company with the appropriate bodies. According to Abdulrahmane Tonga reporting for Leadership,

The DG was dragged before the court by Iyan-Tama, who alleged that he had defamed his character in a television interview he granted DITV Kaduna earlier this year, when he allegedly stated that Iyan-Tama Multimedia was not formally registered as a moviemaking business enterprise.

Tonga continues with details of the continued court case, including that Rabo, who had previously refused court summons to lawsuits in Kaduna, finally showed up:

The court had sat twice without Rabo, before it subpoenaed him to appear in person after a request from the plaintiff’s counsel, Barrister Muhammad Sani Katu of solicitors Mamman Nasir and Co.

Rabo, who appeared to be limping yesterday, arrived the court at 9:05 a.m. in a Toyota bus belonging to the Kano State Ministry of Justice. He was accompanied by two state counsel, Rabi Waya and Sanusi Ma’aji, as well as the chairman of the censorship board, Malam Rabi’u.

He had never answered a court’s summons in the many legal cases filed against him by various movie practitioners in Kano and Kaduna during the past three years since he was appointed by Governor Shekarau to sanitise the film industry.

For more details of the “hot words” exchanged between the lawyers of the two parties, read the rest of Tonga’s article.

Iyan-Tama with Kano State lawyer Barrister Rabi Suleiman Waya, and Iyan-Tama's lawyer Barrister Sani Muhammad Katu outside of a Kaduna court, July 2010(c)Carmen McCain

According to the interview with Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu in today’s Sunday Trust, Iyan Tama said that

The resolution was reached as a result of consultations between my lawyers and that of Rabo where some terms were agreed upon. After we filed the case before a Kaduna High court over alleged defamation, claiming N10 million damages and Rabo failed to appear during the first two sittings saying his security needed to be guaranteed, my lawyer prayed to the court that it was important the defendant appeared and the court granted the plea by way of ordering that Rabo appeared while it guaranteed his security. [...] My lawyer insisted that if I will have to withdraw the case, the censorship board will also have to withdraw its case against me which has been pending for quite a while at a Kano magistrate court.

According to Iyan Tama, the terms of settlement were as follows:

The first was that my company, Iyantama Multimedia was registered as a business name [... with] a certificate of registration KN/0010927 dated the 16th day of December 1997. The second term was that the defendant’s statement that led to the suit was based on a search report made at the corporate Affairs Commission for a limited liability company, and thirdly, that the parties in the suit have in pursuance of the pre-trial conference conducted on the 28th day of September, 2010 resolved to terminate the suit and the criminal case pending before Chief Magistrate Court 7, Nomans Land between the Kano State Censorship Board and Iyantama with case number KA/CMC/28/08.

Iyan Tama says that he didn’t “get anything as compensation” except for the public acknowledgment that he

was not operating illegally. I am happy that the world now knows that Iyantama has been operating legally since inception in 1997.

Hausa filmmaker and politician Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama (photo courtesy of Iyan Tama)

Iyan Tama also talked extensively on the events leading to his imprisonment and his experiences in prison.

Being a filmmaker, I was amazed by every single little thing and therefore made friends with other inmates. I was more like a journalist in prison; I carried out series of interviews with the inmates from which I was able to gather dozens of ideas from which I am currently working to put into films. [...] That is why I said being in prison has turned out to be a blessing to me and I never regretted it.

I was not able to find a link to the Sunday Trust article online, but I have scanned in a photo of the article on flickr. If you click on the photo below, it will take you to a version large enough to read onscreen.

"My stay in prison was a blessing--Iyantama" interview with Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu in the Sunday Trust, 17 October 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Iyan Tama case has been one of the ones I have followed most closely on this blog, since he was imprisoned at the end of December 2008. For a list of articles and posts I have written related to the case, see the following links:

On the Current Censorship Crisis in Kano, Nigeria, 13 January 2009

Kano State High Court Justice Postpones Iyan-Tama’s Appeal, 22 January 2009

2:15am Raid on Iyan-Tama’s Family, 23 January 2009

Iyan Tama’s case “not listed,” 26 January 2009

Triumph/Trust Editorial Convergences (a piece that looks at editorials written about Iyan Tama that claim that his company was not registered with CAC), 29 January 2009

The Mysterious Asabe Murtala/Mukhtar Writes Again (more on the editorial convergences), 10 February 2009

Interview with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board (in which he discusses the Iyan Tama case), 13 February 2009

Interview with Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of MOPPAN and brother of Iyan-Tama,  16 February 2009

Award Winning Film Lands Director in Jail, 16 February 2009, IPS News

Update on the Iyan Tama Case: Bail Hearing Set for 5 March, 19 February 2009

Updates on the Iyan Tama Case and other articles on the crisis in Kannywood, 14 March 2009

Iyan Tama granted Bail, the judge calls for a new trial, 17 March 2009

The Latest on the Iyan Tama Case from the Nigerian News Service, plus new fees from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board, 2 October 2009

FIM Magazine Editor Arrested on the Accusation of Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of the Kano State Censor’s Board, 4 July 2010

Kaduna State Filmmakers Association take Kano State Police, Court, and DG of Kano Censor’s Board to court of breach of “fundamental Human Rights,” 21 July 2010

Iyan Tama Takes Rabo to court over defamation, and other lawsuits, 18 August 2010

Press Release from the Motion Pictures Practitioner Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) calling for investigations into the “allegation of sex scandal against Abubakar Rabo”

(This press release is currently being circulated by MOPPAN. I have copied and pasted it below exactly as it was sent to me. Please see the preceding post for background of the alleged sex scandal in which the director general of the Kano State Censors Board is accused of parking in a secluded location at 10pm with a young girl he claimed was his niece (girl’s underwear were allegedly later found in the back seat of the car); fleeing the police, when approached; hitting a motorcyclist in his flight from the siren-blaring police; apparently being beaten by commercial motorcyclist when caught and then let go when the police recognized who he was; and boarding a flight to Saudi Arabia the next day.)

MOTION PICTURE PRACTITIONERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA

(MOPPAN)

PRESS RELEASE

31st August, 2010

CALLING ON GOV. SHEKARAU TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGATION OF SEX SCANDAL AGAINST ABUBAKAR RABO

We are aghast, as well as dismayed, by the frantic attempts of the Director-General, Kano State Censorship Board, Mallam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, and some collaborators in the Kano State Government and elsewhere to trivialise the serious sex scandal that broke around him last week. We have no iota of doubt that these attempts are meant to discourage any further open discussion on the matter, portray it as an unimportant distraction in the issues of governance in the state, and then sweep it under the carpet.

But Rabo’s self-imposed position as a vanguard of morality not only in the Hausa movie industry but also in the Kano society in general makes it imperative to launch a full inquiry into what really transpired on that night of Sunday, 22nd August, 2010. Rabo and the government he represents should not imagine that covering up this matter would be in their best interest because 1) a huge chunk of the good people of Kano State and indeed the whole North have now tended to believe the stories around the incident as they presently circulate, and 2) doing so would cast a big shadow of doubt about the Shekarau government’s purported entrenchment of Shariah law in the state. Investigating the scandal, however, would bring out the truth of what actually happened. It could clear Rabo of all charges/suspicions or expose him as a hypocrite, someone who engages in secret philandering with girls old enough to be his daughters and therefore ill-fit to hold the sensitive position of DG, KNSCB.

The story going round in the public domain, as published by the Sunday Trust of 29th August and Leadership of August 30th, 2010, is that Rabo was discovered by patrolling policemen in the Sharada quarters of Kano City, in his parked car behind a building, off the road in the dark. It was around 10 p.m. When the police approached, he switched on his car and drove off in a devil-may-care speed. The patrol car pursued him. In his blind haste, he knocked down a pedestrian, seriously injuring him. The pedestrian was later discovered to be a staff member of the Kano State History and Culture Bureau. He is still on admission at the Nassarawa Hospital. Rabo was eventually apprehended by commercial motorcyclists, who had chased him hotly when he refused to stop after knocking down the pedestrian. A teenage girl, who was thoroughly frightened, was found in the car; her underwear was said to have been found in the back seat of the car.

Rabo was eventually taken by the patrolling policemen to the Sharada Divisional Police Station where he was questioned. However, he was allowed to leave with his badly damaged car and the girl that same night by the Divisional Police Officer in strange circumstances.

Both Rabo and the police authorities in Kano have confirmed this incident in their press interviews. What is being contested is what Rabo and the girl were doing at that forlorn place and in that unholy hour. The big story being spread is that Rabo was having a carnal knowledge of the girl as many unscrupulous men tend to do under similar circumstances. Rabo has, however, denied any wrongdoing, saying that the girl was the daughter of his late elder brother and that she had accompanied him to escort some relatives who had broken their fast at his house.

The government of His Excellency Governor Ibrahim Shekarau must investigate the incident in order to reassure the people of Kano about its sincerity on the implementation of its Shariah programme, about which there are millions of sceptics. And while doing so, Rabo should be ordered to go on suspension pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) hereby proposes that a powerful, independent Committee of Inquiry be set up by the Kano State Government to investigate the various claims in this saga. Some of the questions the Committee should investigate include, but not limited to, the following:

1)      Who exactly was the girl in Rabo’s car on that fateful night? Was it really his niece as he claimed in his press interviews or a different person altogether? How old was she? The girl should be interviewed by the Committee;

2)      Did Rabo really host his relatives to a Ramadan-breaking meal (Iftar)? Who were they? They should be made to appear before the Committee;

3)      Why didn’t Rabo go with male member(s) of his family when escorting the said in-laws instead of going with the said teenager if at all she exists and was the one that went with him;

4)      If indeed the girl in question was his niece, is it true that he and she were having a secret affair as is being rumoured?

5)      What exactly was Rabo doing with the girl at around 10p.m. in a secluded place off the main road?

6)      Why did Rabo drive away even though the police siren was said to have been blaring, urging him to stop? And why did he run away even after knocking down the unfortunate pedestrian?

7)      Who were the policemen that arrested him and took him to the police station in Hotoro?

8)      Exactly what did Rabo say in his first written statement to the police?

9)      Why did the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Hotoro, release Rabo and the girl, together with the damaged car, when investigations were just commencing and Rabo’s hit-and-run victim had just been taken to the hospital in a critical condition? Was that a normal police procedure?

10)  Why did Rabo virtually flee to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to perform the lesser Hajj (Umrah) a day or two after almost killing a citizen and while having a sex scandal on his hands? Why didn’t he wait to clear himself of all charges and ensure that the victim of his hit-and-run accident was in a better condition of health?

11)  Did Rabo contribute any money to the family of his hit-and-run victim for his medication, which must have been costing a lot?

12)  Why did some Kano State government officials try to cover up the incident by misinforming the general public that there was no girl in Rabo’s car during the incident? Obviously, they had no idea that Rabo had already confirmed that there was indeed a girl in the car. They were also said to have been urging journalists in the state and elsewhere not to break the story and or allow further discussion on it;

13)  Rabo had claimed that he was aware of certain meetings held for two weeks by some film industry stakeholders or PDP stalwarts with the aim of eliminating him. This serious allegation should be investigated not only by the investigative committee but also by the security agencies; Rabo must tell them where and when those meetings took place, as well as the names of those in attendance;

14)  Rabo had told the press that officials of the opposition PDP in Kano were responsible for his present ordeal. He must tell the Committee how this was possible and the names of those involved.

Finally, we wish to note that Rabo has since become a liability to the government of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. He has attracted more negative perception to the government than any goodwill. A more dynamic and people-oriented regime would have relieved him of his post, more so as he has failed woefully in discharging his responsibilities. The good people of Kano State and the nation at large and wonder just why Governor Shekarau has been keeping him in that office even though he has contributed nothing in the direction of sanitising the industry. He has only succeeded in causing more unemployment of the youths that he prevents from earning their legitimate livelihood, encouraged the production of movies that are not censored yet are in full circulation all over Kano, and helped heat up the society.

This Rabo sex scandal is a litmus test for His Excellency Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau’s candidature for the presidency of Nigeria. Shekarau, who has announced his bid to run for president under his party the ANPP, should begin to show that he would be a responsive and responsible national leader when elected by not helping some elements in his present government to cover up this scandal. Doing so would question his motivation and commitment to the enthronement of a decent society in Nigeria.

MALLAM SANI MU’AZU

National President

MOPPAN

MALLAM AHMAD SALIHU ALKANAWY

Administrative Secretary

DG of Kano Censors Board Rabo caught in alleged sex scandal with Minor, Sunday Trust reports

 

Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of the Kano Censor's Board, at a conference on indigenous language literature in Damagaram, Niger, December 2009 (c) CM

 

Today’s Sunday Trust reports that Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, the director general of the Kano State Censorship Board, was allegedly caught last Sunday, 22 August 2010, in a compromising sexual situation with a minor and has since left the country for Saudi Arabia. According to Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu in Sunday Trust:

The Director General, Kano State Censorship Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim has been allegedly caught in a sex scandal involving a minor, following an alleged incident along Maiduguri Road in Kano metropolis last Sunday, August 22.Reports indicate that Rabo was allegedly with the girl in his car late in the night when a police patrol approached. He panicked and fled on high speed, eventually knocking down a motorcyclist around the Na’ibawa area. He was allegedly apprehended by a mob that vandalized his car before the police intervened.

The police took him to Hotoro Division where it was discovered he was a top government official. He was then released on bail.

A police source informed Sunday Trust that some incriminating evidence pointing at a possible sexual relationship between Rabo and the girl was found in his car. “When the car was searched, the police found the girl’s pant but you know, when such issues involve big people in town, it dies a natural death but he was actually arrested for alleged sex relationship with the girl as well as for hitting a moving bike,” the source said.

Rabo, during interrogation, allegedly told the police that the girl was his niece and he had fled the scene when the police approached because he suspected they might have been thugs sent after him by actors in Kano.

 

"Rabo arrested for sex related offence" Breaking news article by Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu on director general of Kano State Censors Board in Sunday Trust, 29 January 2010, p. 31

 

[[UPDATE  30 August 2010:  When I first posted it, I missed that there was actually another article posted on 29 August 2010 by Edwin Olofu, “Censorship Chief Escaped Lynching for soliciting sex from Minor” for NEXT. There are another two articles in today’s Leadership and on the Nigerian New’s Service.

Edwin Olofu of NEXT provides more details, including that apparently the motorcyclist Rabo knocked over was a member of the Kano State History and Culture Bureau and that Rabo was allegedly parked behind a shopping complex with the girl, he claimed was his neice:

Mr. Abdulkarim, the former Hisbah commander was trying to escape from a patrol team which had accosted him when they saw his car parked in a secluded environment – with a young girl inside – when he ran into a motorcyclist. Other members of the Okada union quickly surrounded him and he was only saved a lynching by the police who had been in pursuit of his car.

[...]

Mr Abdulkarim, who insisted that the girl he was found with was his niece, said he was not having an affair with her. But when the former enforcer of Sharia law discovered he could not convince the contingent of policemen on night patrol on the propriety of having an under-aged girl in his car at such an odd hour, he panicked. The whole thing looked even more suspicious because for some curious reason he had parked behind a shopping complex along Maiduguri Road that night.

A police source said when the patrol team attempted to arrest Mr Abdulkarim he took flight in his car.

Double trouble

While trying to escape however, he knocked down an official of the Kano History and Culture Bureau who was riding on a motorcycle. This incurred the wrath of Okada riders, who thought that he had knocked down a member of their union and promptly proceeded to give him a thorough beating.

Ironically, it was the patrol team that he had been trying to avoid that finally came to his rescue, although by then the okada riders, who saw he had a girl with him, had damaged the car and were already on the verge of beating him to death.

He was later taken to the Hotoro police division where he was made to write down a statement.

 

"Kano Chief Censor in Alleged Child Abuse Scandal" by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz in Leadership, 30 August 2010. p. 2

 

Leadership’s Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz in  “Kano Chief Censor caught in alleged child abuse scandal” also writes on the event, including the detail that the police supposedly used their sirens while chasing him through Kano:

The Director-General of Kano State Censors Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, is enmeshed in a case of an alleged illicit sexual affair involving a minor whom he allegedly abused.

Though it is unclear whether the chief censor had actually penetrated the girl or not, investigations by LEADERSHIP revealed that he was trailed penultimate Sunday in Kano by patrolling policemen who saw a car parked around a bushy area along Maiduguri road by Rukayya House, in Kano around 10 p.m.

The police on patrol beamed their vehicle’s light on the parked car and the DG, who was in the car, started the car and zoomed off to escape the approaching vehicle. LEADERSHIP learnt that the police used the siren of their vehicle to alert the DG that they were trailing him but he refused to stop, engaging the police in a car race.

Rabo raced frantically through the Eastern by-pass road and through Unguwa Uku quarters with the police trailing him. This led him to ram into a motorcyclist around Unguwa Uku Shago Tara. He, however, forged ahead accelerating the vehicle.

It was learnt that the motorcyclist he ran into was wounded, as a result of which some other commercial motorcyclists joined the police in trailing the director general. They subsequently caught up with him around Filin Kashu area of Unguwa Uku.

The angry mob of motorcyclists began to beat the DG, while some aimed at the car, causing serious damages to it, before the arrival of the police who dispersed the people and arrested the driver, who turned out to be Rabo.

The director general was then taken to the Hotoro Police Station where he identified himself. On searching the car, according to a LEADERSHIP source, a young girl was found in the car, and a pant, suspected to be the girl’s. Rabo claimed that the girl was his cousin and he was coming from his family house. He was released at the time.

[...]

He also appealed to the journalists to let the matter die as exposing it amounts to ridiculing Islam.

Rabo’s argument, according to a clip of an interview with him obtained by LEADERSHIP, was that the whole drama was a set up to blackmail him by PDP stalwarts in the state who had been looking for a way to eliminate him. He said those people had been meeting for about three weeks at Shagari quarters, on how to nail him.]]

Readers may remember that Rabo, was appointed to his current position at the censorship board in 2007 where he cracked down heavily on the Hausa film, literature, and music industry, after a scandal involving a private cell phone video of a Hausa actress, popularly known as Hiyana (after her most successful film) having sex with a lover. He has long made statements of concern about the effect of Hausa films on minors, women, and Hausa culture. In the interview I conducted with him in February 2009, for example, he pointed out the reason that women in the film industry have to have permissions of their guardians to act:

A freelancer in the industry who can be a lyricist, a musician, especially the womenfolk by our culture, by our tradition, by our religion, has to be under the custody of her parents or guardian, because of what we call historical factor. They were abused. There were [cases of] domination. There were a lot of sexual abuse cases to be handled by the board. That historical factor, that nasty experience made the board to assume the social responsibility to ensure the dignity of the womenfolk is to protected in this act. So this is why we say she will be brought to us as somebody certified by her guardian, you understand, so that if we absolve her, nobody will see her as a prostitute or a harlot because they have been passing all these nasty allegations by the larger society, and we can’t stand for her even in a court of law if somebody abused her by saying she is a harlot.  [....] I am referring to teenagers, 13, 14, 15 year old girls in her puberty period, during her youthfulness, during her maybe promiscuous  period, people will harass her. Some of the stakeholders who are her seniors will harass her or rather will force her into forced sexual whatever, you understand. We are responsible, the government is responsible to ensure things are not done in an exploitive way sexually.

In a Sunday Trust article from 16 February 2010 “Kano Film Censor’s Board shuts 15 Shops” Rabo is quoted as saying films on the history of history of the Prophet Yusuf were of danger to

“under aged children who can easily be influenced are also involved in hawking such films along the streets without knowing the implications. He also said the ban was as well in the interest of potential customers who might not get to these children even if they found the films were bad.”:

[[UPDATE 31 August 2010: And in a piece written by Rabo and published on the Kano State Censors Board site, he further voices his concern on the "corrosive influence" of Hausa films on children:

Is civilisation synonymous with decadence? Is obscenity a buzzword for freedom? When there is freedom of expression (which covers the right to produce and circulate works of art, films and literature), does it take away the responsibility of parents and guardians to safeguard their wards and sheen them from corrosive visual influences? What gadgets or navigational instruments are at the disposal of these overwhelmed parents in the face of rapidly transforming technology of mass production and ease of viewing? The advent of video technology brought with it urgencies and tough challenges. In the past, you could physically prevent young boys and girls from going to watch a film at the cinema hall if you feared they would be exposed to immorality. With video technology the devil has been piped into the home and corruption is only a click away. Kano is a conservative Muslim Hausa society whose people are comfortable with their religion and cultural heritage. I say conservative because Kano people would love to sieve the impurities from the values being transmitted by the newest art forms.]]

Rabo is currently embroiled in several court cases, including one in which a court in Kaduna issued a warrant for his arrest for contempt of court when he refused to appear in court after a court summons in a case in which he was accused of slander. Following his arrest warrant he accused Hausa filmmakers of sending him death threats by text message (similar to his protest here that he was fleeing the police because he thought they were filmmakers). Kano State police traveled to Kaduna, where they arrested Fim Magazine editor Aliyu Gora II, and kept him in prison for nearly a week without appearing before a judge. The Kano State police were later fined N100,000 by a Kaduna High Court for not following due process.

Rabo is not the only one who has allegedly recieved death threats. Ibrahim Sheme reported on 14 August 2008 that Leadership editor in chief Sam Nda-Isaiah recieved a death threat over the paper’s coverage of the activities of the Kano State Censorship Board.

The zealousness of the police in the case of Gora, against whom no evidence could be found in the near week that he was held in prison, is particularly ironic, considering that Rabo, who was apparently witnessed by dozens of police and okada riders in a compromising situation with a minor, as well as a hit-and-run incident, was allowed to board a plane for Saudi Arabia the next day. (Considering that, according to NEXT, Rabo was given a “thorough beating” following the hit-and-run incident, it must have been a very uncomfortable trip.)

 

Hausa filmmakers on location gather around to read the Sunday Trust article "Rabo arrested for alleged sex related offence" (c) CM

 

I will post more updates on this case, as they become available. In the meantime, here are other relevant posts from this blog that provide information on the director general of the censor’s board.

Iyan Tama takes Rabo to Court for defamation posted on 18 August 2010

Kaduna State Filmmakers Association take Kano state Police, Court, and DG of Kano Censor’s Board to court over breach of fundamental human rights posted on  21 July 2010.

FIM Magazine editor arrested on the accusation of Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of the Kano State Censorship Board posted on 4 July 2010.

Plagiarism of Me and the DG of the Kano State Censor’s Board Speaks out posted on 22 May 2010

Update: 3 Day international Music Festival cancelled by Kano State Censor’s Board posted on 1 March 2010

Kano State Censor’s Board bans films on the history of Islam and the prophets and shuts down 15 shops posted on 16 February 2010

DG of Kano State Censor’s Board taken before shari’a court posted on 5 August 2009

Arrest of singer Aminu Ala and the most recent scuffle of MOPPAN with the Kano State Censorship Board posted on 6 July 2009

Recent news on the activities of the Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board posted on 24 June 2009

Federal Court Strikes Down Kano State Censorship Board’s Objections; MOPPAN’s Lawsuit will go on posted on 27 March 2009

Raids on a Film Set last weekend and other developments in “Kano State Censor’s Board vs Kannywood” posted on 24 March 2009

Updates on the Iyan-Tama Case and other articles on the crisis in Kannywood posted on 14 March 2009

Interview with Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of MOPPAN and brother of Iyan Tama posted on 16 February 2009

Surprising move by MOPPAN and my friend Sulaiman arrested on Tuesday posted on 15 February 2009

Interview with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board posted on 13 February 2009

Interview with Sani Muazu, president of the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria posted on 12 February 2009

The Mysterious Asabe Murtala/Mukhtar Writes again posted on 10 February 2009

Interviews with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board and Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of the Motion Picture’s Practitioner’s Association of Nigeria posted on 30 January 2009

On the Current Censorship Crisis in Kano Nigeria posted on 13 January 2009

Iyan Tama takes Rabo to court for defamation and other lawsuits

I apologize to everyone concerned for this blog post which is coming about a month late; however, hopefully it is still relevant.

On July 21, I posted about the most recent lawsuit in the continuing feud between Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, director general of the Kano State Censorship Board, and the Kaduna Filmmaker’s Association. Twelve filmmakers, under the auspices of the Kaduna Filmmaker’s association, sued 1. Commissioner of Police, Kano State; 2. Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Kano State, 3. Chief Magistrate Court 25 Kano, Kano State; 4. Abubakar Rabo for violations of human rights in the arrest of Fim Magazine editor Aliyu Gora II and the ordered arrest of eleven film practitioners for supposedly sending death threats by text message. According to the August Issue of Fim Magazine, the judge ruled that the commissioner of justice, the court, and Rabo were without fault, but he did fine the Kano State Police, N100,000 for violating the 35th section of the 1999 Nigerian constitution, which states that the “personal liberties” of a person may not be violated. In this case, the police detained Gora for five days, more time than was reasonable.

Singer Abubakar Sani, one of the applicants in the lawsuit against the Kano State entities, outside the Kaduna High Court. (c) CM

The applicants plan to take the case to the Kaduna Court of Appeal to protest the judge’s decision not to charge the three other respondents with wrongdoing. In addition to details of the trial, Fim Magazine (which is on sale in most video shops and other super markets in the North) contains a detailed description of its editor’s arrest in Kaduna, travel to Kano, and five day detention in Goron Dutse Prison, where filmmakers Adam Zango, Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama, and Rabilu Musa (dan Ibro) and Lawal Kaura have also been imprisoned for months at a time beginning in 2007. [See this link for a background to these arrests written in January 2009.] Apparently, Gora was kept in detention, and transported to Kano even after the police had checked his phone and had found no record of the numbers from which the threats had come.

Editor of Fim Magazine, Aliyu Gora II, and Filmmaker Iyan-Tama, both former inmates of Goron Dutse Prison, exchange notes after hearing in Iyan-Tama’s lawsuit against the Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, 22 July 2010. (c) CM

On July 22 following the July 20th court case, I was still in Kaduna, so I also attended the latest session in the lawsuit Filmmaker Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama is filing against Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim. Readers may remember that during a television broadcast on 24 May 2010, Rabo accused Iyan Tama of having operated his company for fifteen years “without registration.” However, when speaking to Iyan Tama’s lawyer, Barrister Sani Muhammad, he pointed out that Iyan Tama had been duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission since 1997, as well as having registered with the Kano censor’s board, and other entities and had been paying his taxes. A brief foray into the “Free Iyan Tama” blog, which was created during Iyan Tama’s first arrests, shows multiple certificates of registration with the National Film and Video Censor’s Board, the Corporate Affairs Commission, the Kano State Censorship Board, and the Kano State Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Cooperatives. Barrister Sani Muhammad also pointed out that Rabo’s on air accusation had affected Iyan Tama’s “clientele outreach, because people before now see him as a responsible person who knows what is expected of him. But soon after this interview, he started losing some of his clientele, business-wise, so he has suffered some damages.” Iyan Tama, who had moved away from Kano so as to avoid problems with the censorship board, had initially not intended to take the case to court; instead his lawyer delivered a letter to Rabo requesting a letter of retraction, asking him to withdraw his statement within ten days. Rabo did not comply with the request within the specified time.

Fim Magazine Editor Aliyu Gora II, only a few weeks after his ordeal with the Kano State police, is back at work, interviewing Iyan-Tama’s lawyer Barrister Sani Muhammad Katu on the lawsuit against Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim. Iyan-Tama listens in. (c) CM

In court on 22 July 2010, Iyan Tama’s lawyer, Barrister Sani Muhammad, protested the fact that legal counsel from the Kano State government were representing Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, saying that Iyan Tama was suing Rabo in his private capacity not in his position as director of the censors’s board and that Rabo should not be making use of Kano state resources in a private matter.  After the court was adjourned until September 23rd, I spoke to Barrister Rabi Suleiman Waya, the legal counsel for the Kano State government, and she told me,

“I am a state counsel, so apparently whenever a government official is sued, it is the state counsel who will come over and defend him, so he is sued as the director general of Kano State Censor’s Board, and as such it is the state counsel who will come and defend him.”

Iyan-Tama with Kano State lawyer Barrister Rabi Suleiman Waya, and Iyan-Tama’s lawyer Barrister Sani Muhammad Katu (c) CM

However, Iyan Tama’s lawyer, Barrister Sani Muhammad, countered that although the censor’s board had been on the initial summons, that was merely the address of service and was not referring to him in his official capacity:

“We are suing him in his private capacity, but he erroneously felt that because he is director of censor’s board, he now felt the best he could do was to use the government machinery […] so that government would now intervene, you understand? So that is why he now had to bring in a government lawyer. But the question of the law is very clear. If you are sued in your private capacity, that is private[…] So you have to engage a private legal practitioner.”

He pointed out that suing him in his private capacity places the plaintiff and the defendant on a more level playing ground, where Rabo does not have access to relatively unlimited government resources.

[UPDATE: 29 September 2010. Today's Leadership reports that Rabo appeared in court yesterday, where his lawyer conceded that Iyan Tama had been registered with the proper government bodies.]

Readers may remember that Iyan Tama, who had, previous to the current Kano State censorship board administration, won awards from the Board for his positive portrayal of Hausa culture, has been arrested and jailed three times on accusations from the Board. His first arrest was on 8 May 2008, immediately on his return to Kano from the 2008 Zuma film festival after his film Tsintsiya won an award for Best Social Issue film. As can be read in more detail in Mansur Sani Malam’s Leadership article, Iyan Tama was charged with not having passed his film Tsintsiya through the Kano State Censor’s Board and operating his company without proper registration. According to his brother Dr. Ahmad Sarari and Iyan Tama himself, Iyan Tama had publically stated on the radio that his film was not for sale in Kano, and although the censor’s board claimed that he did not have a certificate to prove the renewal of his registration, Iyan Tama did have a receipt for the renewal. Apparently the censorship board had not issued anyone a certificate until after Iyan Tama’s initial arrest. Released on bail, Iyan Tama was again imprisoned when the court location for his trial was changed without informing him and he came late to court. His final arrest came in December, when he was sentenced by the mobile court attached to the censorship board to three months in prison. He served almost the entire sentence in the Goron Dutse prison, before being released in March by a judge who called for a retrial. According to Ibrahim Sheme,

“He was let out of prison this week, following a prayer to the High Court by the Kano State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice that the court should grant him bail and order for a retrial of the case. According to the Attorney-General, Barrister Aliyu Umar, the first trial was besmirched by irregularities. Due process was not followed in the trial that led to the conviction, he said. He used very uncomplimentary terms to describe the trial conducted by a senior magistrate, Alhaji Mukhtari Ahmed, such as “improper,” “incomplete,” “a mistake,” summing up by insisting that a “more competent magistrate” should be given the case to try again. Umar told the court presided over by Justice Tani Umar: “I am not in support of the conviction in this trial. It is obvious that the trial was not completed before judgement was delivered but there and then the presiding magistrate went ahead and delivered a judgement.”

Iyan Tama, who moved out of Kano following his release from prison hoping not to have any more run-ins with the censorshop board, was unpleasantly surprised when the director general came to Kaduna to repeat the same faulty accusations against him. Iyan Tama is now currently engaged in three different court cases: 1) the initial case brought against him by the censor’s board, which is currently under review; 2) a case in the Kaduna State Court of Appeal, where Iyan Tama  is protesting the ongoing review of the case, as he had already served the sentence of three months in prison; and 3) this lawsuit against Rabo for defamation of character.

I have followed Iyan Tama’s various court cases and the activities of the censorship board fairly closely over the course of this blog. Here is a list of past posts on the Iyan-Tama case and related matters that may be of interest:

On the Current Censorship Crisis in Kano, posted13 January 2009

Kano State High Court Chief Justice Postpones Iyan-Tama’s Appeal posted 22 January 2009

2:15am Raid on Iyan-Tama’s Family posted 23 January 2009

Iyan-Tama’s Case Not Listed posted 26 January 2009

Triumph/Trust Editorial Convergences posted 29 January 2009

Interviews with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board, and Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of the Motion Pictures Practitioners Assocation of Nigeria posted 30 January 2009

The Mysterious Asabe Murtala/Muktar Writes Again posted 10 February 2009

Interview with Sani Mu’azu, President of Motion Pictures Practitioner’s Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) posted 12 February 2009

Interview with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board posted 13 February 2009

A Surprising Move by MOPPAN, and my friend Sulaiman Abubakar (MPEG) arrested on Tuesday posted 15 February 2009

Interview with Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of MOPPAN and brother of Iyan-Tama posted  16 February 2009

More Arrests along Zoo Road yesterday, and my article on Iyan Tama makes IPS front Page posted 17 February 2009

Update on the Iyan-Tama Case: Bail Hearing set for 5 March posted 19 February 2009

Updates on the Iyan-Tama case and other articles on the crisis in Kannywood posted 14 March 2009

Iyan-Tama granted bail, The Judge calls for a new Trial posted 17 March 2009

Raids on a film set last weekend and other developments in “Kano State Censor’s Board vs. Kannywood” posted 24 March 2009

Federal High Court strikes down Kano State Censorship Board’s objections; MOPPAN’s Lawsuit will go on posted 27 March 2009

Mobile Court bans listening to 11 Hausa songs posted 8 June 2009

Recent news on the activities of the Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board posted 24 June 2009

Arrest of singer Aminu Ala and the most recent scuffle of MOPPAN with the Kano State Censorship Board posted 6 July 2009

Breaking News: Singer Ala denied bail posted 7 July 2009

My notes on the court case of Aminu Ala today at the Mobile court attached to the Kano State Censorship Board posted 7 July 2009

Aminu Ala given bail on condition that he does not speak with media posted 10 July 2009

DG of Kano Censor’s Board taken before shari’a court posted 5 August 2009

The latest on the Iyan-Tama case from Nigerian News Service, plus new fees from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board posted 2 October 2009

Kano State Censorship Board shuts down Kano Music Festival hosted at Alliance Francaise, Kano posted 28 February 2010

Update: 3-day international music festival cancelled by Kano State Censor’s Board posted 1 March 2010

French Ambassador rejects the conditions of KS Censorship board for lifting ban on music festival, Punch reports posted 3 March 2010

Arresting the Music. Arresting Hope. Arrested for playing at a wedding “without permission” posted 11 March 2010

Interview with Hiphop artist Ziriums in this week’s Aminiya posted 18 April 2010

FIM Magazine Editor Arrested on accusation of Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of Kano State Censorshop Board posted 4 July 2010

Kaduna State Filmmakers Association take Kano State Police, Court, and DG of Kano Censor’s Board to Court over breach of “fundamental Human Rights” posted 21 July 2010