Category Archives: Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim

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

Just a quick post as a place holder for a longer post on the most recent event in the series of suits and countersuits between Kaduna filmmakers and Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, director general of the Kano State Censor’s Board.

Today, at the Kaduna State High Court the Kaduna filmmaker’s association filed an

“amended statement and additional affidavits in the matter of an application by Ashiru Sani Bazanga [Vice president, Kaduna Filmmakers Association] and 11 others for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights as guaranteed by sections 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Articles  4,5,6,8,9,20,11, and 12 of the African Charter of Human and People Rights and under the Fundamental Human Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.

The lawsuit is 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.”

I attended court this morning, and sat beside Tahir I. Tahir before he was called to the witness stand with the 8 other applicants who had shown up. Eventually, after the lawyer for the case, Mohammad Sanusi, presented the case, the defending lawyer had very little to say, and the case was adjourned until 27 July 2010. I took about 3 pages of illegible notes, admittedly understanding very little of the proceedings. Fortunately, afterwards I was able to have an interview with the leading lawyer for the Kaduna Filmmaker’s Association on the case, Mohammed Sanusi, and also with Yakubu Lere, President of the Kaduna Filmmaker’s Association. I will add more of the details I learned from them in a later post, along with a few photos of people who attended court today and documents of the ongoing case. My multilinks internet does not seem to work very well in Kaduna, so I might have to wait until I leave the city to upload all my photos.

In brief, the complaint of the Kaduna filmmakers is chiefly that their fundamental human rights, as Kaduna citizens, have been breached by the intimidation of Rabo and the Kano state police and court system, beginning with Rabo’s inflamatory remarks on DITV Television on the 13th and 14th of May, urging “Kaduna people to stand up against them [the filmmakers’ and make sure they send them out of Kaduna state” (as quoted from the original complaint made 28 May 2010) and continuing with the Kano state police intimidation in Kaduna state. Kano state police were sent to arrest the 12 applicants in Kaduna state, on Rabo’s accusation of having recieved death threats by text message from three phones. (At least one of the phones was traced to a woman who did not appear on the list for arrest.) However, the police came and the arrest was made without the awareness or permission of the Kaduna State Commissioner of police. Yakubu Lere narrated how the Kano police came to his house several times and intimidated his family in his absence. They apparently also visited Abubakar Sani’s office and Adam Zango’s studio, but didn’t find either of them there. They did find Aliyu Abdullahi Gora, editor of FIM Magazine, in his office, arrested him on Wednesday the 30th of June, held him overnight in a Kaduna police cell, and then took him to Kano on 1 July, Thursday, where he was put in prison. The judge did not show up to court two days in a row, so Gora was held over the weekend, until Monday, 5 July, when the judge gave him bail on the condition that a Level 17 or higher civil servant or businessman based in Kano post bail for him. He was not able to meet these conditions until 6 July 2010. In adding up those dates, you can see that he was detained by the Kano police for exactly a week.  Yakubu Lere told me that although immediately after Gora’s arrest while he was still in Kaduna, the Kaduna filmmakers had obtained a stay of arrest from a Kaduna judge, the police went ahead and took him to Kano. In the photocopy I have of court order, it shows that the 12 accused filmmakers applied for a staying order on 2 July 2010, and it was approved on the 7th of July. In Yakubu Lere’s affidavit  he mentions the irony

11. That some members and more particularly 1st to 6th Applicants filed complaints against the 4th Respondents for the offence of Criminal defamation of character, inciting disturbance of public peace which were all committed in Kaduna as indicated in Exhibits 2 and 3 repectively

and

18. That the 4th Respondent has recently used the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Respondents to humiliate, harass, and intimidate the Applicants to forgo their complaints.

Note that the 6 filmmakers who initially filed the complaint against Rabo for defamation of of character on 28 May 2010 (Ashiru Sani Bazanga, Moh’d Rabiu Rikadawa, Aliyu Abdullahi Gora II, Suleiman Sha’ani, Musa Aminu, and Jamila Adamu) were among those fingered by Rabo as allegedly having sent him the death threats by text message.

Note also, that the continuation of Director Iyan Tama’s lawsuit against Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim is set for this Thursday, 22 July 2010.

Stay tuned for more details, including excerpts of my interviews with the lawyer and several filmmakers involved with the case, and photos of documents. For more background information, please see my detailed post on the events leading up to this lawsuit.

[UPDATE: 30 July 2010: On 27 July 2010, the judge in Kaduna upheld the right of Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim to make a complaint to a Kano court; however, he fined the Kano state police N100,000 for unlawful detention of Aliyu Gora)

FIM Magazine Editor Arrested on accusation of Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of Kano State Censorship Board

Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of the Kano State Censor's Board at a Hausa writers conference in Damagaram, Niger, December 2009

In yet another bizarre twist in the Kano State Censors Board vs. Kannywood saga, the editor of Fim Magazine, Malam Aliyu Abdullahi Gora II, has been arrested following a complaint by the head of the Kano State Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, that he suspected the editor and other Kannywood stakeholders of having sent him death threats by text message. According to Ali Alkali and Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz in their article “Editor Remanded Over Alleged Threat to Life” and Ibrahim Sheme in “Shekarau’s Hausa Movie Script” in Leadership newspaper, the police apparently came to Kaduna from Kano on Thursday, 1 July 2010, and bundled Gora into a taxi to Kano. When a judge claimed she was unable to come to court, Gora remained in prison over the weekend awaiting Monday, 5 July 2010, when he will hopefully be able to appeal for bail. [[[UPDATE MONDAY, 5 JULY 2010: One of my friends just called and told me Gora went to court today, and Magistrate Halima Nasiru said that he could be released on bail with the following condition: The person who posts bail for him, the assurity, must be a level 17 Civil servant from KANO, or alternatively a KANO businessman with a business registered with the KANO government. Remember that Gora is from Kaduna, where he lives and works, and that it will be much more difficult for him to find someone to post bail for him in Kano. In the meantime, he is approaching his 6th day in prison over a mere accusation.]]]   Moreover, according to Alkali and Abdulaziz other Kannywood figures listed for arrest are:

Yakubu Lere, Abdullahi Sani Kano, Tahir I. Tahir, Tijjani Asase, Yusuf Baban Chinedu, Ashiru Sani Bazanga, Adam A. Zango and Rabi’u Rikadawan (a.k.a. Dila) and Abubakar Sani.

They have obtained a restraining order against arrest from Kaduna High Court.

Rabo had claimed in his petition to the police that he received text messages from two GSM lines in which his life was threatened, fingering the nine industry stakeholders as suspects.

Some of the suspects had earlier sued Rabo in a Kaduna magistrate court over defamation of character and the case is still pending in the court.

This is a story I have meant to post far before this but had not found the time to compile all of the articles together. I will try to do so here, providing a list of links to a timeline of the suits and countersuits between filmmakers and the head of the censors board. In summary, the events just narrated come on the heels of an arrest warrant against Rabo for contempt of court, when he failed twice to appear in the Kaduna court, for which he had received summons. Rabo had been sued by filmmakers for defamation of character following claims he had made on air at Kano independent television station DITV that Kaduna filmmakers were making pornographic films. He also made claims during the DITV interview that Hausa film director and producer Iyan-Tama had not registered his company Iyan-Tama Multimedia. Following the order for his arrest from the Kaduna court, Rabo had obtained a restraining order from a Kano high court, to stop Kaduna police from arresting him.

Readers may remember earlier posts in June, July, and August of last year in which I described how the filmmaker’s association MOPPAN sued Rabo in a shari’a court in Fagge, Kano, for defamation of character on Radio Kano. The September 2009  issue of Fim Magazine described how Rabo failed to show up in court on multiple occasions. (Note that I have provided a link to photos of the pages of the article  in Fim describing the case: page 12, page 13, and page 14). According to Fim Magazine and sources I spoke to in MOPPAN, the state made some structural changes to the Kano State Censors Board, adding directors to provide more oversight of Rabo. Furthermore, Justice Mukhtari Ahmad, who had sent artistes Adam Zango, Iyan-Tama, Rabilu Musa (Ibro), Kaura, Aminu Ala and Bashir D’andago to prison, in quick trials with many irregularities, was moved to Wudil.  However, MOPPAN was told not to continue the case against Rabo in the shari’a court.

Rabo continued to travel out of state speaking about the need for censorship and perceived abuses of filmmaker’s against the “culture of the Hausa-Fulani.” In May, there was an uproar on the Finafinan Hausa and Dandalin Siyasa yahoo groups, when Rejato, a journalist with Radio Alternative in Niamey, Niger, claimed that Rabo had sent his supporters in Kannywood, Useini Sule Koki, Mohamed Roja, and others to Niamey to ask artistes in Niamey to register with the Kano State Censorship Board. According to Rejato, Rabo offered tohelp Nigerien artists with 10 million naira if they agreed to this arrangement. The Nigeriens responded pointing out that Niger and Nigeria were two different nations and laws in Kano did not apply to them.

In the meantime a riot nearly broke out in Kaduna on 24 May 2010 when Rabo went on DITV radio accusing filmmakers in Kaduna of making pornography.

According Abdulrahmane Tonga in Leadership on 17 May, 2010,

It was only by whiskers  and the quick arrival of  Operation Yaki policemen that saved the Director-General of Kano State  Censorship  Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdukareem, from lynching by angry film makers  in Kaduna.

The incident, which occurred at the premises of Desmims Independent Television (DITV) and Alheri FM Radio on Friday,  created tension and apprehension when Rabo  participated in a live programme  where he was alleged to have made uncomplimentary remarks against Hausa film makers and called on the government and people of Kaduna State to descend on them and stop what he called “their salacious and amoral film making ventures.”

In the programme, Rabo was alleged to have even mocked the Kaduna State government when he said he  bought a pornographic film at Unguwar  Sarki, which the authorities allowed to continue unabated to the detriment of the people and their morals in the state.

In an interview, a member of the Kaduna State Film Makers Association, Alhaji Yakubu Lere, said Rabo’s pronouncement during  the  live programme was inciting, provocative and very uncomplimentary to the film makers in Kaduna State, who are doing a lot to earn a living, saying that  it was what  infuriated them.

“The arrival of Operation Yaki really assisted greatly, because some members of Kaduna Film Makers Association had attempted to go inside the studio and beat up Rabo due to his unguarded utterences against our members,” Lere said.

When the situation had calmed down, Rabo, who looked visibly traumatized, asked Lere and Alhaji Haruna Danjuma (Mutuwa Dole), another veteran dramatist, to escort him out of the station.

“Rabo was escorted out of DITV premises inside  a pick-up van belonging to Operation Yaki and taken straight to his room at Access Hotel, Barnawa, where he checked out without further delay. In fact, he did not waste time in packing his little belongings into his car, and left with the escort of Operation Yaki full of civil defence corps up to the border with Kano State”.

When Leadership contacted him on his GSM phone, Rabo said whatever he said on the TV programme was not against the law, and if anyone has doubt, the recorded programme is still in DITV, that the person  can check it out.

“It’s only an act of overzealousness of some film makers who were angry with what I said. And I have no regret whatsoever for making such remarks,” he said.

Asked whether he really bought a pornographic film in Kaduna, Rabo declined to answer, but said, “In Kano State, we have sanitized the film making industry, and it is very complementary if other states in the country, especially in the North, could take heed from what we have done, in the interest of all people.”

Al-Amin Ciroma reported the story in more detail in Leadership on 18 May 2010, including the responses of the filmmaker’s to Rabo’s accusations:

The DG, Leadership gathered, insinuated among other issues that some nude home videos, popularly known as ‘Blue-films,’ were in circulation in Kaduna metropolis, particularly in Anguwan Sarki ward by the Hausa filmmakers.

Some filmmakers expressed their dismay over what the DG said.

“We don’t know what Rabo want from us? We are Nigerians and have freedom of association and previleges. We were defaced and mutilated in Kano and subjected to all series of humiliation and as law-abiding citizens, we transfered our business back to Kaduna, with mutual understanding between us and the government of the state. Kaduna is a liberal state where sentiment is of no course. We are peacefully doing our business here and yet he is all out to fight us. For Rabo to say that we are producing nude vidoes, I think, he need to visit his psychiatric doctor,”a source within the association told LEADERSHIP.

Commenting on what they called indignity by the filmmakers, the management of the station condemned what the Kannywood practitioners did. Our correspondent authoritatively gathered that the filmmakers convaged in huge numbers into the premises of DITV, located at Sambo Close, GRA, Kaduna, at early hours of Friday, raining abuses on Malam Rabo Abdulkareem, they also threatened to burn down the station.

Salisu Umar, a.k.a Salinga, the presenter, who hosted the DG on his popular programme, “Mu Shakata” revealed that after hosting him on the programme the previous day, he felt that there was need for him to reappear again the next day to clarify some issues. According to him, Abubakar Sani, a popular playback singer, offered to appear with the DG on the programme to counter some allegations, which the presenter approved. He then made same arrangement with Rabo; a request, which the DG agreed. By that arrangement, Umar added, Rabo is to feature alongside the Kannywood singer on the programme. Suprisingly, continued Salinga, the DG called him that he had changed his mind to appear live and suggested that the programme be recorded and aired late. “Not only that, Rabo said, he prefered to record the programme in his hotel room. Without questioning him, I passed the information to Abubakar Sani and he also agreed with the arrangement. Sani, to my surprise, called me again that he has alighted Sani Musa Danja, who is the president of the newly inaugurated Nigerian Artistes In Support of Democracy (NAISOD) to come on the programme with Rabo. [See my earlier post on NAISOD-CM] I called Danja and he stated his readiness to feature alongside the DG, but on condition that the programme be hosted in the studios of DITV and not Rabo’s hotel room. Danja gave me his reasons for not wanting to go to Rabo hotel room, which I reasoned with him. As a mediator, I cajoled the DG to come to our studios, which he agreed after some hesitations. Sani Danja and some of his subjects, Isma’il Na’Abba (Afakallah), Abubakar Sani, Ubale Wanke-Wanke and others came to our office as scheduled to meet Rabo,” said Salinga.

The programme went on well with the guests, according to the presenter, “Unknown to us, some of the filmmakers kept calling their colleagues and before we knew it, our premises were surrounded by them. It took the intervention of security agents to disperse the angry artistes and whisk Malam Rabo and his entourage out of Kaduna.”

Following Rabo’s quick return to Kano, the Kaduna State Filmmakers Association took Rabo to court.  Abdulrahman Tonga reported in Leadership on 1 June, 2010, that:

Members of the Kaduna State Filmmakers Association yesterday dragged the Director-General of Kano State Censorship Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, to a magistrate court in Kaduna over alleged criminal defamation of character and inciting the public to violence.

In a complaint charge filed before Chief Magistrate Nasiru Idris Lere of Magistrate Court 1, Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Kaduna, six filmmakers argued that a television interview granted by Rabo to the DITV station in Kaduna a fortnight ago had ridiculed their image and lowered their reputation in the eyes of the public.

Rabo was quoted to have told the TV station in a live broadcast that Hausa moviemakers were now engaged in the production of pornographic films and that the people of Kaduna State should rise against them.

He reportedly claimed to have bought a copy of such pornographic movies in Unguwar Sarki area of Kaduna metropolis.

Describing the censorship board chief’s assertion as false, the plaintiffs said such statement was capable of inciting violence in the state.

“His statement that people should rise against us has made our members to live in constant apprehension for fear of being attacked by the public,” they said.

Rabo’s allegation was contrary to sections 392 and 114 of the penal code, they added.

The complainants consist of executive committee members of the Kaduna filmmakers association. They are: Ashiru Sani Bazanga, Rabi’u Mohammed Rikadawa, Aliyu Abdullahi Gora II, Sulaiman Sha’ani, Aminu Musa Carlos, and Jamilu Adamu.

LEADERSHIP learnt that the court summons, which was endorsed by a magistrate in Kaduna, was received by Rabo yesterday in his office situated within the Kano State-owned City Television in Hotoro, Kano.

The hearing comes up tomorrow in Kaduna.

However, the next day, Rabo did not show up in the Kaduna court claiming that he was “indisposed,” a move echoing his similar absence in Kano courts in August 2009. Samuel Aruwan reported in Leadership on 3 June 2010:

The case of defamation and inciting of public disturbance to violence, brought before Kaduna Magistrate Court by members of the Kaduna State Filmmakers Association against the Director-General of Kano State Censorship Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, was yesterday mentioned in the court. The magistrate, Nasiru Idris Lere, ordered that the counsel to the director-general, Mr. Gabriel Didam, must produce the respondent before the court in person.

When the case was mentioned, counsel to the director-general, Gabriel Didam, told the court that his client could not appear in court in person as a result of being indisposed, a plea the filmmakers’ counsel, Mr.A.S. Suleiman in his argument consented to the respondent’s prayer. The judge adjourned the case to June 10, 2010 with clear instruction that Rabo must appear in person before the court.

On 9 June (perhaps the earlier date of adjournment quoted was wrong?), Abdurahmane Tonga reported in Leadership (a copy of the article is posted on Ibrahim Sheme’s blog) that:

The Kaduna State police command has been ordered by a judge to arrest the Director-General of the Kano State Censorship Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, for his failure to appear before it on two occasions.

The judge, Alhaji Nasiru Idris Lere of Magistrate Court 1 in Kaduna, gave the order for Rabo’s immediate arrest by the police.

[…]

When the case opened in court last week, the Kano chief censor failed to appear, citing ill-health. His counsel sought a postponement, a plea to which the filmmakers’ counsel, A.S. Suleiman, did not object.

During yesterday’s hearing, counsel to Rabo, Mr. Gabriel Didam, told the court that his client could not appear in court in person as a result of insecurity in the state, adding that his client was also sick. He, however, apologized to the court on behalf of his client.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Malam Sadau Garba, appealed to the court to issue a bench warrant against Rabo, pointing out that this was the second sitting in which he was not in the court. According to the lawyer, information reaching him was that the accused was determined never to come to the court.

“Justice has to be done,” he said. “The accused person had complained that he was sick, but no written document had been produced. And information reaching us is that the accused is bragging that he will never be present throughout the case and that nothing will happen. We therefore apply that this honorable court issue a arrest warrant to make him appear and take any alternative measures to bring him to the court”.

When ruling on the request, the judge said, “The accused person did not follow the proper way to channel his complaint to the court, a behaviour which may leave the other party to feel they are not treated equally.

“I will not believe him that there is insecurity in Kaduna. It’s an excuse by the accused person. And he has to tell us the names of those that thinks are after him so that court will stop them from coming to its premises.

“Since the inception of the case he has been complaining frequently, but the accused never did in the formal way. Under the section 153 of the CPC, the accused has to be in court. I am left with no option than to order his arrest under section 70 / 1A / B by the Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State.”

Hearing in the suit was adjourned till June 16, 2010.

Court order for the arrest of Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim (given me by MOPPAN)

On 15 June 2010, Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz reported in Leadership that Rabo had obtained a staying order from the Kano high court:

A Kano State High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Shehu Atiku, has issued an order barring police from arresting or detaining the Director-General of the Kano State Censorship Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, following an order to that effect by a Kaduna magistrate court.

The applicant had filed an ex-parte motion asking the court to stop the police from carrying out an order issued to them by Chief Magistrate Nasiru Idris Lere of Chief Magistrate Court, Ibrahim Taiwo Road , Kaduna, to arrest and produce him before the court.

The motion, number K/M328/2010, dated June 11, 2010, joined the Kano and Kaduna police commissioners as first and second respondents. Others include Magistrate Lere, the Inspector-General of Police and the Assistant Inspectors-General of Police in charge of Zone 1 (Kano) and Zone 7 ( Abuja ).

A copy of the court order obtained by LEADERSHIP in Kano shows that the court hinged its decision to issue the order after considering the motion ex-parte and the accompanying affidavit sworn to by the applicant.

Part of the document reads: “The Respondent particularly the 1st and 5th Respondents (i.e. the Commissioner of police Kano State, and the AIG, Zone 1, Kano) are hereby directed to stay all actions (in particular, from arresting and detaining the Applicant) pending the hearing and determination of the substantive application.”

A Kano-based lawyer, Barrister Nuraini Jimoh, and one Mr Morgan stand as counsel to the chief censor in the case. It has been adjourned to June 25, 2010 for hearing of the substantive motion on notice.

Arrest Warrent for Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, 10 June 2010

On 16 June 2010, Al-Amin Ciroma reported further drama when Rabo’s attorneys claimed their ignorance of the restriction on arrest of their client :

The case, which is presided over by Chief Magistrate Nasiru Idris Lere, has yesterday end with a dramatic session as the counsel of the accuse, Barrister Gideon Didam, honourable withdrew with his team of lawyers from the case on grounds of protecting their professional integrity. “We are completely ignorant of the court order restricting the arrest of our client. We are in this vain, going to allow the judicial court to take its position, may be that is why the accused is absent today.” Said the defence counsel.
Similarly, the counsel to the complainants, Barrister Sadau Garba, represented by Barrister Mohammad Sunusi, argued that the said order from the Kano high court seems not authentic as the document was a photocopy instead of original. Sighting technical inferiorities, Barrister Sunusi disputed the order under section 158/D&E of CPC. He urged the court to continue the proceeding.
The Chief Magistrate, in his ruling said the court will ignore the matter to avoid judicial rascality. Adding that the registrar of the court will forward the said order to the Kaduna State Anthony general for verification and further directives. Meanwhile, June 28, 2010 was fixed for further hearing on the case.

The latest reports return to where I started this post. I have not yet found information regarding the 28 June court date. The news is taken over by Rabo’s accusations of receiving death threats from the very people who sued him to court, the arrest warrents from Kano courts, the continued imprisonment without bail or trial of Fim magazine editor Aliyu Abdullahi Gora II.

On 2 July 2010, an opinion piece was published in the Kano state government newspaper Triumph by an Asabe Murtala mysteriously titled “Is Rabo a Melting Pot.” In the piece, Asabe Murtala vociferously defends Rabo in a tone and language that sounds very much Rabo’s own, as can be read on the “Censorship Board in the News” section of the Kano State Censor’s Board website. Asabe Murtala waxes lyrical over the DG of KSCB:

To many people, Rabo’s name alone sounds musical to ears. While the same name sends shivers and is persistently jittery that shocks the very foundation of the ill-conceived and perturbed thinking of some handful few in the Hausa film making industry. You can call it Kannywood, Shaidanwood or any other wood you want to attach it to.

With regard to the programme aired on DSTV that is inspiring so many lawsuits, she says:

In the programme Mallam Rabo was so stressed for the need that there was a need for the people of Kaduna State, both muslims and non-muslims, to stand up against any film making that is in collusion with our societal norms, value and culture. And he was so disturbed that while we are in the 21st century, some film makers are still behaving as if we are in the uncivilized world.

[….]

There were five callers during the second live programme. They are Abdullahi, Ladidi, Hudu, Mamman and Maman Fadhlu. They all praised the presentation as apt, focused and enlightened. Most of the callers confessed that they didn’t like Rabo’s style of operation before. But with the discussion that was taking place, they came to understand what Rabo stands for. This is a deadly blow on the faces of the film makers. Instead of them to calculate and strategize well, they challenged Rabo to be a co-host with one other person from their part. Which he happily responded in the affirmative. It never occurred to them that an encounter with Rabo could not be a Pancake-race. The encounter turned out to be a Pandora’s box! Because they were panic-striken, Mallam Rabo had to be escorted out of theDITV premises with the help of security operatives, that were armed-to-teeth.

What followed then was, as I heard from some reliable sources, Rabo received many text messages threatening his life. As a law abiding citizen, he officially wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police, Kano Command, titled ‘Threat to My Llife.’The letter was sent on the May18, 2010. In the letter Mallam Rabo cited some text messages as samples, together with the phone numbers. To tell you that Rabo is security conscious, by sending the texts with the phone numbers. He knew the vital role those numbers could play during investigation. Though, the numbers could be purchased for that hatchet job alone.

Threatening his life was not enough to them, for the fact that they realized that he was waxing stronger in Kaduna State and other neighboring states. They resorted to court action and media campaign against this gentleman.

Least I forgot, during the third programme, DITV Radio Alheri hosted Mallam Rabo, Sani Danja and Isma’ila Na-Abba. Rabo as usual dressed them down. So the film people floated over an ocean immediately after the Titanic ship rocked. It was terribly embarrassing!

Mallam Rabo was summoned by the Chief Magistrate Nasiru Idris Lere, of the Kaduna Magistrate Court. Mallam Abubakar Rabo could not go to the court on health ground. And could not also attend the second sitting because he got no assurance from the court of his security. He was receiving text messages threatening his life, so it was mentioned to the court through his lawyers.

The article continues on for some time in this vein. Readers may remember that this very same Asabe Murtala or Asabe Muktar (the same article was published in Triumph and Daily Trust under these two different names) was accused by Ibrahim Sheme on the Finafinan Hausa listserve of being none other than a pseudonym  for Rabo himself. While this may be a baseless accusation, it does seem curious that, though she claims to be a Kannywood stakeholder no one seems to have ever met her (I once received an email from her forwarding one of her article, but when I wrote back asking if we could meet, I never heard back from her) and that she (with variations on her name) only seems to surface as a writing persona, publishing articles in defence of Rabo and the Kano State Censorship Board.

Meanwhile Bashir Yahuza Malumfashi reported in the Hausa weekly, Aminiya, on 2 July, and Ruqayya Yusuf Aliyu reported in Sunday Trust on 4 July, that filmmaker Alhaji Hamisu Lamid’o Iyan-Tama has filed another seperate lawsuit against the DG of the Kano Censor’s Board Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim for 10 million naira claiming defamation during Rabo’s 24 May 2010 interview at DITV.  Ruqayya Yusuf Aliyu writes:

According to the statement of claims signed by the counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister Mohammed Sani Katu, the plaintiff is also demanding a public apology and retraction of the alleged defamatory statement made.

The statement of claims also stated that during the said interview, the defendant specifically mentioned that the plaintiff did not register his company, Iyantama Multimedia, which has been in operation for over 15 years with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

The plaintiff further alleges that the defamatory statement has caused him embarrassment before his associates and the public saying he has received a number of calls whereby the callers expressed their disappointment over the said non registration of his company.

The statement of claims also said since the programme was aired, the revenue he generates from the company has significantly reduced among other things.

Readers may recall, that Iyan-Tama spent three months in prison last year after a trial in the court of Magistrate Judge Mukhtari Ahmed, which the Kano attorney general eventually called (as reported by Ibrahim Sheme)  ““improper,” “incomplete,” “a mistake,” […] insisting that a “more competent magistrate” should be given the case to try again.” As noted earlier, Mukhtari Ahmed was relocated in August from the Kano airport court, where he had tried and sentenced so many film stakeholders, to Wudil.

Here is a list of links to newspaper articles describing the progression of events:

My three blog posts in June, July, and August 2009 describing the events leading to the shari’a court case of slander against Rabo, as well as two newspaper articles on the case and a piece from Fim Magazine. I’ve also provided a link to an interview I did with Rabo in February 2009:

Timeline of the most recent lawsuits and counterlawsuits from May to July 2010:

Plagiarism (of me) in the Vanguard and the DG of Kano State Censor’s Board speaks out.

I’m still backlogged on a lot of blog posts, bear with me. I will post soon on the Zuma Film Festival, the Savannah International Movie Awards, and the NAISOD press conference.  But this morning, when I opened up this Vanguard article by Benjamin Njoku, “Our Grouse with Kannywood – DG, Kano Censorship Board,” (also found here on AllAfrica.com) it sounded curiously familiar.  While most of the article is an original piece outlining the director general of the Kano State Censorship Board’s “grouse with Kannywood,” the first three paragraphs are directly plagiarized from a piece I wrote (with the help of Nazir Hausawa and Ahmad Alkanawy) back in January 2009 and published first on my blog, then republished in NEXT, at Chimurenga Online, and at Pambazuka News. I thought I’d post immediately, half out of pique, half because the article is actually relevant to my research.

Here are the first four paragraphs of Njoku’s article:

Until three years ago, Kano used to be the home of a thriving film industry in the Hausa language. Hausa language ‘video-films’ are similar to the larger ‘Nollywood’ film industry but are stylistically different from their southern counterparts, with most films including song and dance sequences influenced by Indian films and hip-hop music videos.

A sex scandal in 2007 involving a leaked cell phone video of a Hausa film actress, Maryam ‘Hiyana’ Usman, having sex with her boyfriend Usman Bobo, instigated a change in the leadership of the Kano State Censorship Board. The board had been instituted in 2001 after the implementation of Islamic Sharia law as a compromise measure between the film makers and the government.

The censorship board enabled the films to continue being made but with some restrictions on dress and interaction between male and female actors.

Following the sex scandal, the incumbent director general of the Kano State Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, formerly commandant of the hisbah, was appointed in August, 2007, to arrest the ugly trend. Since this administrative change, controversy has continued to trail the industry as there have been alleged multiple arrests and acts of intimidation against the film industry and related entertainment businesses in Kano.

Now here are the first three paragraphs  of my piece, as quoted from NEXT:

Nigeria’s northern city of Kano was until last year the home of a thriving film industry in the Hausa language. Hausa language “video-films” are similar to the larger “Nollywood” Nigerian film industry but are stylistically different from their southern cousins, with most films including song and dance sequences influenced by Indian films and hip-hop music videos.

In August 2007, a sex scandal involving a leaked cell phone video of a Hausa film actress Maryam “Hiyana” Usman having sex with her boyfriend Usman Bobo instigated a change in the leadership of the Kano State Censorship Board. The board had been instituted in 2001 after the implementation of Islamic Shari’ a law as a compromise measure between the filmmakers and the government.

The censorship board enabled the films to continue being made but with some restrictions on dress and interaction between male and female actors. (The Kano State Censorship Board is a separate entity from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board which files and gives ratings to all films made in Nigeria. Hausa filmmakers are required to submit their films to both bodies if they want to sell their films in Kano State.)

[….] [Paragraph four deleted in Njoku’s piece, he continues on to paragraph five.]

Following the sex scandal, a new director general of the Kano State Censorship Board Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, formerly commandant of the hisbah, was appointed in August 2007. Since the administrative change, there have been multiple arrests and acts of intimidation against the film industry and related entertainment businesses in Kano.

This is not the first time I have been plagiarized. A piece I wrote under a pseudonym was rather humorously mangled in a local government-funded paper (I didn’t make any public noise about it because I had written under a pseudonym) and several other pieces were taken without attribution on ModernGhanaNews.com and other such sites. Similarly, my photos posted on this blog, on flickr, and other internet forums are regularly published without attribution. But this is the first time, I have been plagiarized in such a respectable paper by an entertainment journalist I have, myself, quoted (with attribution) in my academic work. I am flattered that my piece I wrote a year and a half ago is still felt to be well written and relevant enough to open a new article (with a few edits and moving around of phrases), but, as most writers are, I am also irritated at having my words taken with no attribution and at the subtle changes made to the text to imply that the “ugly trend” of being arrested is somehow the fault of the filmmakers and separate from the authority of the Kano State Censor’s Board.

And, of course, what I am experiencing is common to many other journalists. I have several journalist friends who have complained about their words being stolen and used without attribution on online publications, and I daily read newspapers with “culled” stories from international news sites, some with attribution, some with none.

My grouse on having my words plagiarized being stated, if you’d like to hear more of DG Rabo Abdulkarim’s “grouse on Kannywood,” read on to the “original material” in the article, with the usual accusations against Kannywood (amongst many others) that

five percent of their immediate concern is to copy other people’s works at a cheap rate.

yeah, that’s apparently not too unusual in other media either…

In other recent news on the Head of the Kano State Censorship board, apparently Rabo Abdulkarim was involved in an altercations with filmmakers in Kaduna after he made accusations on Radio DITV in Kaduna about Hausa filmmakers making blue films. For more information on the gathering of filmmakers who challenged the head censor on the premises of DITV, read Al-Amin Ciroma’s article “Showdown with a Censor” published in Leadership on 18 May 2010.

Arresting the Music. Arresting Hope. Arrested for playing at a wedding “without permission”

Last night I wrote a post about a story my friend told me about some musicians being arrested for playing at a wedding “without permission.” However, since the case is still ongoing, I have decided to take down the post until things are a bit more settled.

[UPDATE: 16 March 2010: Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz has just published a story in Leadership on the Alliance Francaise episode  that mentions the incident I am referring to here:

Meanwhile a six-man band known as Police Band who perform at weddings in the state was equally smashed by agents of the board on allegation that they were performing without a permit of the board. The band is led by one Solomon alias Solo, an emerging entertainer.

Members of the band were mopped up and taken to a court which subsequently sentenced them to six months with an option of fine of N20, 000. The group was thrown behind bars but was later released after paying the fine.]]

When I first heard about this story, my friend told me that the Police Band was registered with the Kano State History and Culture Bureau….

Readers may remember that two weeks ago, the Kano State Censorship Board also shut down a 23,000 euro international concert organized by the French embassy and the Kano State History and Culture Bureau, being hosted at the Alliance Francaise, for not “seeking permission” to hold the event.

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

Daily Trust, 1 March 2010, p. 7

In an update to my last post, I spoke briefly today with Alain Service, the director of the Alliance Francaise in Kano, and he confirmed that the Kano State Censor’s Board sent a letter to the Alliance Francaise about two hours before the three-day KAMFEST music festival, an annual event that has taken place at the Alliance Francaise for the last 6 years, was to begin. Service said the letter told them to stop the festival. He claimed that the letter gave no other reason for cancelling the event other than saying that they had no right to hold the event without informing the Censor’s Board.

There were also brief articles in the Daily Trust and by AFP about the cancellation of the three-day event, which was to feature artists from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and France.

The AFP news report says:

Sharia police ordered the closure of an annual music festival funded and organised by the French embassy in northern Nigeria at the weekend, local officials and diplomats said on Monday.

“We have banned the music festival for the reason that we were not notified and our permission was not sought,” Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, head of the film censorship board in the northern Kanoregion, told AFP.

The French embassy said they had been told they could not stage the event at the local French cultural centre as they did not have prior authorisation.

“Following a notification by the Kano state censorship board, the Kano festival of music is cancelled” the French embassy said in a statement emailed to AFP.

The embassy has organised the three-night KANFEST music festival for the past six years through its cultural centre in Kano, featuring performances from Nigeria and other African countries as well as French musicians.

It seems strange to me that the Kano State Censor’s Board had the power to halt the event, when another Kano State agency, the History and Culture Bureau had helped in planning the event. One person I spoke to at the Alliance Francaise said that she thought the Censor’s board was limited to censoring films, but that since the event was cancelled at the Alliance Francaise she had heard that the censor’s board is saying that even performances at weddings have to gain permission from the censorship board ahead of time. When I asked the director of the History and Culture Bureau, Ali Bature about the relationship between the two state agencies, he said that the History and Culture Bureau had a “cordial relationship” with the Kano State Censor’s Board and had in fact been instrumental in helping to found the board in 2000 as a way to protect filmmakers and allow them to continue making films after the establishment of shari’a law in Kano State. He did, however, note, when I asked him, that there was no legal basis in the Kano state censorship law, for the individual registration of artists. He said the expectation was that guilds would be registered with the censor’s board but that individual artists were the guild’s responsibility. A copy of the entire Kano State Censorship law can be found in the Kano State History and Culture Bureau, for anyone who would like to peruse it. According to film industry practitioners I have spoken to, censor’s board workers on multiple occasions(one such occasion is described in one of my March blog posts) have visited locations of films being made in Kano to check whether each member of the cast and crew is individually registered with the board. Although I was not able to confirm this with Mr. Service, the rumour I have heard from multiple sources is that part of the reason the Censor’s Board shut down the event was because Maryam Fantimoti, who is not registered with the Censor’s Board, was slated to perform at the event.

[[UPDATE 3 March 2009. In an article in today’s Punch, “France Rejects condition for lifting ban on Music Festival,” [If you have trouble getting the link to open, you can also find the article copied here] Oluwole Josiah reports:

French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jean-Michel Dumond, told our correspondent in an exclusive chat on Monday that discussions with the officials of the censorship board revealed that they were targeting one of the participating singers who was said to have criticised the board for banning music within the state.

He said the board wanted the singer to be withdrawn from the concert, but that condition was not acceptable to the embassy.

“We don’t want to be involved in that kind of situation where it has to do with this person or that person. Ours is to ensure that we promote culture and get the festival to benefit the people.

“If it is reduced to an individual or dealing with one person or the other, we are not interested in that. We have been discussing with the officials of the government, and we do not really have anything to do with the censorship board,” Dumond said.

He noted that the Kano State Governor was not aware of the decision of the censorship board and would be seriously disappointed at the turn of events.

Josiah also reports that:

The French Embassy has said it would not accept the conditions given by the Kano State Film Censor Board for lifting the ban on the annual music festival known as KANIFEST.

It also said it was unsure of staging the annual festival this year or next year, as the position of the Kano State Government would determine the fate of the festival.]]]

Today, I passed by a roundabout near the government house several times, and the banner advertising KAMFEST was still there, flapping abandoned in the breeze.

Kano State Censorship Board shuts down Kano Music Festival hosted at Alliance Francaise, Kano

I was told the following information by several people I will not name. I cannot, at this moment, verify the details of this report, only that it is oral testimony (over the phone) from several people who were involved in the event. I hope to talk to someone in the administration of the Alliance Francaise tomorrow to get more concrete details.

Apparently, yesterday, 26 February 2010, the three day Kano Music Festival, being hosted at the Alliance Francaise in Kano was shut down on the first day of the event by representatives of the Kano State Censorship Board and not allowed to continue with the rest of it’s scheduled events. According to one person I talked to, the festival was closed down because Hausa musician Maryam Fantimoti was to perform and she was not registered with the Kano State Censorship Board.

The organizers of the event had brought musicians from other parts of Africa and Europe to perform at the music festival. According to one press release on the Guide 2 Nigeria website:

There will be performances from several musical groups from across the globe including the famous Soubyana Music from Chad, the Dangana group from Niger, the Nassiru Garba group from Nigeria and the Trio Belhumeur from Upper Brittain.

Another source told me that over 20,000 euros had been spent on the cultural event, which did not end up holding, as it was closed by representatives of the Kano state government.

The Alliance Francaise has hosted the Kano Music Festival (Kamfest) for six years in a row.  The event had the support of the Kano State History and Culture Bureau.

Readers may recall that this is coming on the heels of a recent closure of 15 shops by the Kano State Censorship Board for selling films on the history of Islam. The Kano State Censorship Board has also been responsible for multiple arrests and business closures of those working in entertainment related fields. In a related closure of a cultural event, the hisbah closed down a fashion show organized in honour of designer Zainab Hamza in May 2009.

Kano State Censors Board bans films on the history of Islam and the prophets and shuts down 15 shops

"Kano films censors board shuts 15 shops," Sunday Trust, 14 February 2010, p. 33

Two days ago (my internet has been down for a day and a half–thus the delay in posting this), I read in the Sunday Trust and the Hausa language weekly Aminiya a story I had heard from filmmakers a week and a half ago before my trip to Abuja. I hadn’t blogged about it because I had only heard ji-ta-ji-ta (rumours) about it, but the newspapers confirm the story.

Apparently, according to Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu in the Sunday Trust, 14 February 2010, page 33, “Kano films censors board shuts 15 shops,” the Kano State Censorship Board closed 15 video shops over “selling tapes of the history of Prophet Yusuf.” (Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the link to the article online. If I find it, I will link to it here. In the meantime, here is a photograph of the article.)

The Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, “said in an interview in Kano that

“banning the sales of such films has become necessary as it is against the teachings of Islam and therefore will not be allowed in the state.”

Rabo also mentions that

“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.”

In response,

[S]ecretary of the Kano film sellers association, Malam Isa, described shutting down the shops by the censorship board as unfortunate as the director general of the board did not keep to the promise of briefing them on what stand it is taking on the sales of the film before acting.

“I can recall that the DG sometimes in October last year invited us for a meeting at A Dai Daita Sahu and during the meeting, one Islamic scholar, Malam Aminu Daurawa, mentioned that watching the film was not appropriate and after the meeting, we met the DG at his office on the matter and he told us that was just a dialogue among scholars which does not involve us. He then promised that he was going to inform us on any development thereafter but unfortunately he didn’t. The next thing we saw was the closure of the shops” he said.

Malam Isa said that the film sellers:

“have reported the case to the Emir of Kano and as Muslims we are ready to comply with the ban so long as it is Islamic scholars that will come together to prove that the film is contrary to the teachings of Islam.”

He also lamented the loss of business this was causing to the shop owners saying:

“business has been their major source of livelihood and now that the board has closed the shops, these people are finding it hard to survive.”

The Hausa weekly Aminiya, 12 February 2010, provides more details. I will provide a summary of the article in English here—please note that this is NOT a direct translation but a summary in my own words.

Bashir Yahuza Malumfashi writes in “Hukuma ta haramta sayar da fina-finan tarihin Musulunci a Kano” (p. 21) (“The [Censor’s ]Board bans selling films on the history of Islam in Kano”) that the director of the censors Board Malam Abubakar Rabo went to the Kofar Wambai market and closed four shops where they were selling films on the history of Islam, specifically the film on the history of the Prophet Yusuf [Joseph] and the film The Message.

In a radio program on Radio Kano, DG Abubakar Rabo said that “the censors board had closed 15 shops in Kano and he warned others who were selling the films.”

Aminiya reporters went to the Kofar Wambai market to see the shops that had been closed, and one of the film marketers, Musa Abdullahi Sanka who started selling film cassettes in 1976, said that the story was true. The Censors board had come and closed shops selling films on the history of the Prophet Yusuf and the history of Islam, The Message.

When Aminya asked Abdullahi Sanka what reason the Censors Board had given for closing the shops, he said that the censors said that they should stop selling the film because apparently there were some Islamic scholars who had issued a fatwa on selling films on the history of the prophets, saying such films were not appropriate.

The marketer responded saying that the businessmen wanted the well-respected Islamic scholars in Kano to come together and say whether the films were appropriate or not. If they said they were not appropriate, then how could they correct them? If they gave very strong reasons for banning the films, then the marketers would stop selling them.

The marketer told Aminiya that four shops in Kofar Wambai had been closed: that of Alhaji Salisu, that of Ahmadu Hussaini, that of Anas, and another Igbo marketer whose name he did not give.

He said that the film sellers got the films from Misira, others from Lagos, others were brought from Arab countries. He said that he had heard that the film on the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) was made by Shi’a in Iran, and that is why the Censorship Board had cooperated with the fatwa of an Izala scholar against the film.

When he was asked if he had seen the film and if it seemed to be appropriate, he said that he hadn’t seen the entire film but that he remembered how when he had been fifteen years old, the late Islamic Scholar Sheikh Nasiru Kabara had told the history of the Prophet Yusuf, and what he had seen of the film followed exactly what the scholar had told them.

The Secretary of the Film sellers association of Kofar Wambai Market, Malam L. Isa said that the discussion with the Censors board had started last year. The Censors Board had invited them to a meeting organized by A Dai Daita Sahu (the government sponsored Societal Reorientation Directorate) on 24 October, where it was said that Sheikh Aminu Daurawa had preached a sermon in which he said that it was not right to watch this type of film on the history of the Prophet Yusuf. “When we heard this, we asked the director of the Kano State Censorship board about this. He told us we shouldn’t worry that it would not affect us. But we were surprised that day, without notice, without letting us know, people came to the market and closed shops belonging to those in our association.”

He said that after the shops were closed, they complained to Malam Rabo who did not listen patiently to them. This is why they went with their complaint to the Emir of Kano. “What is happening with us right now. We went to Director Malam Rabo, but he didn’t listen to us or give us any good answer. He even kicked us out, so we got up and we went to our father, the emir of Kano, and carried our complaint to him. Since there are big men in power, we should let them know what is going on with us—If they don’t know what has been happening, they will now know.”

The Secretary continued,” We called on the emir to negotiate between us and Malam Rabo because we have been obeying the government and the censors board, but now there is no understanding between us. People were sent from the board to us without anyone letting us know there was  such a law.”

Another marketer Alhaji Nasiru Ibrahim K’ok’i, better known as Palasd’inawa, also expressed his unhappiness at the actions of the Censor’s Board. He said that they had been watching films on the lives of the prophets since they had been children. On Muslim holidays, the Kano state television station used to play them.

“It shouldn’t be that the judgment of a single Islamic scholar becomes the basis of the entire Muslim culture. Now Malam Rabo should tell us what kinds of films that we should be watching, because they have banned Hausa films saying that they are spoiling women and children. So now why are they banning films on Islamic history, since no one can say they are spoiling culture?’

The director of the Kano State Censors Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim explained the reason for the ban. He said that it is in accordance with the culture and the findings of Islamic scholars who said that such films were not fitting as they were not respectful to the prophets.

The gist of Malam Rabo’s statement was that the Kano State Censors Board was created keeping in mind Islam and the judgments of Islamic scholars who guide the community. The board had heard from the association of Islamic scholars and other religious organizations that people were trying to make money on offensive films made about the lives of the messengers of God. He also noted that they had called a meeting through a Dai Daita Sahu (Societal Reorientation Directorate) where one of the Islamic scholars had shown the danger of these types of films that were insulting to the Messengers of God and culture.

Malam Rabo said that this is the reason the Censor’s board said that the selling of these types of films must stop because it was not fitting to show another man in the film claiming to be the Messenger of God. He further said that the Board would continue to hunt down those who brokered and spread films in Kano state, especially, he emphasized, those who were selling films on the sides of the roads because this is illegal.

To read the article in Hausa, see the photo of the article here:

Board bans selling films on the history of Islam in Kano”], Aminiya, 12 February 2010, p. 21″]