Watch the trailer here:
I have written previously about my work with my brother, Dan McCain, on the film.
The Yar Adu’a Foundation sponsored the film, which was produced by Lagos-based Core Productions, directed, shot, and partially edited by my brother, and hosted by Ken Saro Wiwa Jr. Dan travelled all over Nigeria exploring environmental issues and asking if there were any links to climate change. The research and some of the early interviews were done by Chinelo Onwualu, I did a little more research, transcribed hours of interviews, conducted a few more, and cut together the first version of the script. Louis Rheeder finished and rewrote part of the script, sat with the editor, and turned it into a beautifully organized story, where everything flows together and makes sense. Ken Saro Wiwa Jr., who “hosts” and narrates the documentary ties everything together. Together with Dan’s spectacular cinematography (shot on Epic), it all comes together, boom!
As I have mentioned previously, as we were working on it, “we made a point of making this a ‘Nigerian’ documentary, and the interviews in the documentary are all with people based in Nigeria.” Some of the strongest voices in the film are those of well known environmentalists Ken Saro Wiwa Jr., and Nnimo Bassey, as well as those activists and environmentalists like Ekaette Ukobong, Michael Uwemedimo, Godknows Boladei Igali, Liza Gadsby and Peter Jenkins and others who work at the grassroots community level to make a difference. Nnimo Bassey has been an amazing advocate for the film, speaking at multiple screenings, including #COP21 in Paris. Ken Saro Wiwa has screened it at University of California, Berkeley, and other locations. Jacqueline Farris, Nnena Ogbonnaya-Orji, Marve Michael, and others at the Yar Adu’a Foundations have been working tirelessly to organize screenings in Nigeria and beyond.
I was in Lagos for the first screening at the Green Me Film Festival Saturday with Dan, Louis, and Sabrina Coleman of Core Productions. We’ve watched it dozens of times on large screens, but it was the first time any of us had seen it in a cinema. We were all blown away. It’s amazing in the cinema, the BOOM! of the cinematography and colour grading, the detail of the sound design. The audience was chattering at the beginning but suddenly everything went quiet. Later they began talking again, but they were exclamations and responses to the film. I’m looking forward to seeing at other film festivals. The organizers encouraged Dan to come back for the awards ceremony the next night. (Sadly, I hadn’t known about this on time and already had plans to travel for a conference that night. I keep missing things!) To everyone’s delight, the film won the Grand Jury Prize.
For more information about the film and the screening schedule, please see my post about the premiere (to which I have attached a calendar of screenings) or the Yar Adu’a Foundation Facebook page.
I hope this win and the attention the film is receiving will also draw more attention to the current crisis surrounding the Ekuri Forest. We had featured the Ekuri community forest in Cross River State in the film as one of the encouraging stories about what a community can do to take initiative for conserving their own environment. In the 1980s, they had refused offers from logging communities and decided to form the Ekuri Initiative to preserve their forest. The forest is one of the few remaining rain forests (crucial as a carbon sink) in Nigeria, or West Africa as a whole. According to The Daily Post, on 22nd January 2016, a
Public Notice of Revocation signed by the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development and published in a local newspaper on 22nd January 2016 decree[ed], among other things, that:
“all rights of occupancy existing or deemed to exist on all that piece of land or parcel of land lying and situate along the Super Highway from Esighi, Bakassi Local Government Government Area to Bekwarra Local Government Area of Cross River State covering a distance of 260km approximately and having an offset of 200m on either side of the centre line of the road and further 10km after the span of the Super Highway, excluding Government Reserves and public institutions are hereby revoked for overriding public purpose absolutely”.
The outrageous 10 kilometres on either side of the highway, would decimate the community forest, and, as the Rainforest Rescue petition points out, in seizing this community’s ancestral lands, would render them homeless.
Although, it seems that no Environmental Impact Assessment has been done (required by law for major projects of this sort in Nigeria), in February 2016, bulldozers came to the community. While the Ekuri community protested, they have already begun to knock down trees in neighbouring communities. The Ekuri Initiative has started a website, and there is a detailed and disturbing background on the threat against the forest accompanying this Rainforest Rescue petition.
Nnimo Bassey’s Mother Earth Foundation released this press release, pointing out that,
Observers think the project may be a cover for land grabbing, illegal logging and poaching and the destruction of habitats in the forests and reserves that are protected by law and preserved by custom. They question why a project of this nature would reportedly enjoy contributions from Nigerian banks without requisite preliminary surveys, plans and approvals.
The affected communities inform that “besides the fact that the proposed route was going to cause untold damage to the globally important park, it also demonstrated that the route had been selected without looking at a contour map, let alone having an engineering survey.”
Nnimo Bassey protests ““We find it unacceptable that a project of this magnitude is pursued without regard to the law and in defiance of the rights of communities.”
In the upcoming weeks/months I hope to publish some of the full interviews we had done for the documentary with members of the Ekuri Community. Consider signing the petition, or if you have influence with the government, exercise it to prevent this outrageous land grab. And if you have a chance to see Nowhere to Run, you will be able to see the beauty of this forest and the passion of the community members like Martin Egot and Chief Edwin Ogor for their land, before this threat.
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
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)
Today Al-Jazeera picked up on a horrifying story that I have been hearing rumours of since Tuesday. On Tuesday, a friend posted on Facebook and on his blog the following email plea from a farm owner based in Plateau State on the outskirts of Jos:
We are receiving terrible news from the village where Zamani Farms is located, called Kuru Jenta, on the way to Jos Airport Evidently the village has been set on fire and the Muslims in the village, including our workers some of whom are Muslims, have been surrounded and fear they are about to be executed. We have tried unsuccessfully to reach army and police authorities in Jos. Please, if any of you in Abuja have access to any authorities who can help stop this situation we would very much appreciate it.
The post was followed a few hours with an defeated sounding email post saying:
First of all, thanks to all of you who tried to help me rescue some of our staff and others in Kuru Jenta. I want to state that I have not yet been able to go to the farm to see for myself what is the situation, but have been in touch with some individuals by phone. According to reports, all of the Muslim houses in Kuru were burnt, and most of the Muslims were killed. Only a few are still alive. Although the person I spoke with (one of our farm staff) was naturally upset and a bit confused, he told me that he believed that except for himself, the other Muslim members of staff of the farm were all killed, along with many other inhabitants of the village.He along with his wife and children were injured but managed to escape, and at that point (this evening) he was attempting to walk through the bush to get to the Police Staff College, which he felt was the nearest place of refuge where they could be safe.
At Kuru, there was not a fight between groups, as had been the case in Jos. Muslim inhabitants were rounded up and shot or burnt in their houses. As I said, I have yet to see for myself, but I received the same report from both Muslim and Christian staff and have no reason to doubt its veracity. Only that I am not sure of the details of the exact number killed
A Human Rights Watch call for investigation posted today gives more details. All of the reports I have heard so far seem to indicate that the killings were carried out by armed invaders:
Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that groups of armed men attacked the largely Muslim population of Kuru Karama around 10 a.m. on January 19, 2010. After surrounding the town, they hunted down and attacked Muslim residents, some of whom had sought refuge in homes and a local mosque, killing many as they tried to flee and burning many others alive. The witnesses said they believed members of the armed groups to be Christians.
Community leaders from Jos and journalists who visited the town under military escort later in the week told Human Rights Watch that they saw bodies, including several charred corpses of young children and babies, strewn around town, including dozens stuffed down wells or in sewage pits. According to a Muslim official who visited the town to arrange for burial of the bodies, 121 have been recovered so far, including the bodies of 22 young children. The official told Human Rights Watch that corpses are still lodged in 16 wells. Journalists and community leaders who visited the town said that nearly all of the homes and the three main mosques were burned and destroyed.
One of the town’s Muslim imams wounded in the attack told Human Rights Watch that a Christian pastor tried to stop the attack but was beaten by the armed mob. There are conflicting reports of the police response. One witness reported that at least one police officer participated in the attack, while another said the police abandoned their post shortly before the violence began. Witnesses said the killings took place throughout the day, without police intervention to stop the violence, despite repeated calls to the police.
Human Rights Watch publishes eye witness reports from two witnesses:
A 32-year-old resident of Kuru Karama, described to Human Rights Watch what happened:
“Kuru is an old mining town. There are over 3,000 people who live in the community. When we heard that there was crisis in Jos [on Sunday], we went to the [local] Berom chief on Sunday and Monday, he said we should go back home, and go in peace. We went home and relaxed. On Tuesday [January 19] we sat down in the police station and [all] agreed that nothing would happen in the community. The three Muslim leaders were there; the three pastors were there; the chiefs of the Berom and Hausa were there. We then went home. After 15-20 minutes we saw people dropping [entering the town] from the mountains. They were Berom – the tribe of the governor. They were armed with cutlasses, guns, sticks, and bags of stones. It was not the Christians from our community but those from outside who came. Before they reached the area, we called the pastors who said it was none of their business.
I saw one policeman kill more than three people. This is not what I heard from people; I saw it with my own eyes. We were running away, and we met the policeman. He shot a small boy who fell on the ground, and we hid. We had only stones in our hands. He also killed a woman with a baby.
The children were running helter-skelter. The men were trying to protect the women. People who ran to the bush were killed. Some were burned in the mosque, and some went to the houses and were burned. We think 250-300 have been killed, including babies and children. My brother lost four of his children. I personally saw more than 20-30 bodies of children. Some were sliced into two from the head downward; others were burned; others were amputated. I saw a mother lying down and the baby lying next to her.
I am married with two children and one wife. I was waiting for her [my wife], I could not see her. I left Kuru after 12 midnight [early Wednesday morning]. I ran to neighboring villages. The next evening I saw her. She was wounded badly. The 11-month-old girl, they [the mobs] used an axe and cut her. They are both at the hospital.
I came back on Wednesday evening escorted by the military. I saw dead bodies everywhere. The corpses were there, but now you can just see the blood on the ground. None of the houses are standing. All the mosques were liquidated.”
A community leader who was in Kuru Karama the day of the massacre described to Human Rights Watch what he saw:
“Around 10 a.m. we started seeing people coming around and surrounding us. They said they will take our land, saying we are the non-indigenes. They started throwing stones, shooting bows and arrows, shooting guns; we tried to defend ourselves, but we had nothing.
After they started beating us and we ran back to the village, we started to gather our wives and children and put them in the central mosque because anyone who knows religion knows the mosque and church are safe places. We left a few people in the mosque and then went back to defend ourselves, but we couldn’t make it because we didn’t have anything to protect ourselves with, and we couldn’t run because they had surrounded us. So we had to just try to defend ourselves before they killed us. So along the way they were killing us. They were shooting us, hitting us with knives, burning us. They followed us; we went to another place, and they killed us. We were going round, and round, and round.
I saw what happened in the central mosque. They pursued us. They burned the mosque. They killed people in our presence. They burned the mosque with the women and children in it. There were over 100 bodies in the mosque – women and children. We couldn’t run away. All of us were wounded. They burned the whole village. There are 200-500 Muslim houses and they burned them all. The central mosque is a big mosque and was destroyed. They have killed almost 500 people. Some people ran to the bush and were killed. The dead bodies are in the wells, some in the soakaways. The fighting went on from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. They [the mobs] ran away and left at night.
I have three wives and four children. I saw the dead body of one wife; they had burned half of her. The remaining wives and my four children, I have not seen them. There are those who are burned to ashes, and you don’t know who is who.”
Other reports and reactions to this massacre can be found here:
Vanguard: Religious Renegades
Daily Trust: Norma farms proprietor sends distress message
Sunday Trust (24 Jan ’10): Jos Crisis: 150 bodies stuffed in wells in a village
[UPDATE 24 January 2009: Let me just note at this point, that, as a Christian, I find this an excrutiatingly painful thing–to see those who claim to be Christians carrying out massacres against fellow human beings created in God’s image. Anyone who knows the scriptures and words of Jesus, who even as one of his disciples tried to protect him against arrest by cutting off a man’s ear healed the wounded man and said: “Put your sword back in its place […] for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52), will know that this sort of violence is blasphemy. This is a political/ethnic crisis that has much more to do with resources, identity, and belonging, than it does to do with religion, as this Human Rights Watch report case study on the indigene/settler politics in Nigeria might help explain. That said, I find very troubling the trend on other Christian websites I have seen spinning the story as one of “persecution” against Christians without acknowledging the other side of the story or admitting that there are those who claim to be Christians who are murdering, killing, and destroying. Rather than attempting to excuse reprisals against “those who started it,” we also must acknowledge, both as Christians and Muslims, that there are those who are using the names of our God to commit atrocities, and we must denounce them in the strongest possible terms. So I say: To those who kill and loot and politic and conspire and corrupt youth in God’s name, may He judge you with the same fire you used to burn the houses and bodies of innocent people. To those who preach hatred and prejudice and violence in God’s name, listen to the words of Jesus, who is venerated in both Christianity and Islam: Luke 17: 1-4, Matthew 7:15-23, Matthew 26:52,Matthew 23:13-39, John 3:19-21. For those who excuse attacks on those who are of a different religion or ethnicity because you think if you don’t strike first, they will persecute you: Matthew 18:21-22, Matthew 5:38-45, Luke 6:27-31, Matthew 10:24-31, John 13: 34-35,John 14:27. These are just a few selections of many more passages from the New Testament, which reflect a focus on the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. To kill one’s neighbor in the name of Christ is a complete opposition to the whole meaning of Christianity [and although, as a Christian, I speak more knowledgeably about Christianity than Islam, and am here specifically talking about the atrocities committed by so-called “Christians”, here are a few links to sites about peace and love in Islam as well: Islamforpeace.org, Islam and World Peace: Explanations of a Sufi, A Book of God’s Love, The Necessity of Interfaith Dialogue: A Muslim Perspective, etc] , and to those who selectively defend an ideology of hate out of a few passages taken out of context, I think Jesus’s words in John 8:44 are appropriate: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” ]
Authors Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino and Ibrahim Sheme on the Finafinan_Hausa listserve both report that Aminu Ala was released yesterday, July 9, 2009, on bail, but on the condition that he does not speak with local or international media. The case was adjourned until 20 July 2009.
On his blog, Ibrahim Sheme reports on the granting of bail
But there’s a caveat. Ala was barred from granting interviews to local and international media – clearly a desperate attempt to muzzle his freedom of expression and the freedom of the press on the issue. The court ruled that his bail would be thwarted if he does so.
Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino gives a detailed summary in Hausa of the court case on July 9, which I will copy below. He reports that despite the large rainstorm of the night before and the water on the roads, the court was completely full at 10am when the case was scheduled to begin, including even “girls and married women who had heard the news of the case on the radio.” The judge did not show up, and they were told to wait or come back at 1pm. At 1:45pm, the judge finally showed up, and gave Ala bail until the court meets again on 20 July, except that (Gidan Dabino puts this in all caps) “THE COURT PROHIBITED HIM FROM TALKING WITH DOMESTIC OR FOREIGN JOURNALISTS.” He continues “We and those from outside will continue talk.” In the meantime the Kano branch of the Association of Nigerian Authors came out with a press release on 8 July 2009, which I will copy in it’s entirety after the report in Hausa by Gidan Dabino.
KOTU TA BA DA BELIN ALABarka da warhaka ‘yan’uwa, kamar yadda na bayar da bayanin yadda aka ce an daga zaman kotu sai 14 ga wata, baya ta haihu, domin an sami kuskure wajen rubutun da ma’aikatan kotun suka yi, amma bayan kai kawo da aka yi aka gano kuskuren ma’aikatan koton don sun rubuta kwanan watan da ba daidai ba, bayan kai kawo da ka yi an dawo da zama kotun yau kamar yadda aka ambata a baya.Yau da misalin karfe 10 na safe jama’a sun yi dafifi sun cika kotu, cikar kwari kotun ta yi, duk da ruwan sama da ake yi, yau kotun har da matan aure da ‘yan mata da zaurawa da suka ji labari a rediyo, sun sami hallara. Amma mai shari’a bai fito ba, ya ce sai karfe 1, nan ma bai zauna ba sai 1.45 sannan ya zauna kuma Alkalin kotun ya yarda ya bayar da belin Ala, sannan za a ci gaba da shari’a ranar 20/ga wannan wata.Sai dai KOTUN TA HANA SHI MAGANA DA ‘YAN JARIDU NA GIDA DA WAJE.Allah sarki! Mu da muke waje za mu yi hirar. Ai gari da mutane maye ba zai ci kansa ba!Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, Kano, Nigeria
You can visit my blog Taskar Gidan Dabino at http://gidandabino.blogspot.com
Press ReleaseAt an emergency meeting held at the Bayero University Kano, today, July 8, 2009, the Association of Nigerian Authors Kano State Branch, frowns at the arrest of one of its members Alhaji Aminuddeen Ladan Abubakar (ALA) over the alleged release of a song that has not been censored by the Kano State Censorship Board.The Association is seriously looking at the implication of the arrest which is seen as an attack on liberty and freedom of expression. The Association has observed that the authorities in Kano are hostile to art and literature. This action and other past actions of the authorities are seriously undermining the position of Kano State as the leading centre of learning, art and literature.The Association wishes to advise the authority to be cautious on the way it handles the matters of authors and other producers of art. Art and literature are part and parcel of everysociety and no society can do without it.Yours faithfully,Dr. Yusuf M AdamuBranch ChairmanAlh. Balarabe Sango IIPublic Relations OfficerJuly 8, 2009
[NOTE: 25 March 2009: This is a corrected version of an earlier post.]
Kannywood filmmakers have only recently begun shooting their films in Kano again. For the past several months, more and more stakeholders have gone ahead and registered individually with the Kano State Censorship Board, so that they will be able to work in Kano State instead of travelling outside to surrounding northern states. (Such travel is not ideal for filmmakers who live in Kano: several stakeholders have been killed in road accidents going to and from location, and the cost of production goes up when everyone is staying in hotels.) However, the registration process involves both the payment of a registration fee and an interview with the censorship board before an id card will be issued that gives the holder permission to work in Kano. Those I talked to about registering a month ago had a resigned air. “We have to work,” I was told over and over again. Baba Karami, producer, actor, and marketer, told me he had a family he was trying to support and he would follow the law. Another director and actor told me that although he was not going to register as a director in the state (he would keep shooting his own films outside of Kano), it would not be fair to the producers of other films he appeared in as an actor if he did not register as an actor. Apparently the Kano State Censorship Board will not allow any film in which an actor who is not registered individually with the censorship board appears to be released in Kano State. Among those I ‘ve spoken to over the last few months, there has been the feeling that registering with the Censorship Board–“following the law”–would provide them with some modicum of security from being included in the sweeping arrests of Kano film industry stake holders. A few even told me they thought the Kano State Censorship Board was trying to improve filmmaking in Kano. However, the stakeholders I talked to yesterday–the same ones who had been resigned to registration–were angry.
According to several crew members I spoke to yesterday, last Saturday, 21 March, a film set on the outskirts of Kano State was raided by police. According to my sources, every one on the location was registered with the Kano State Censorship Board and the necessary paperwork to shoot the film in Kano had been completed. Two police vehicles showed up and police asked the director to show proof that he had registered the production with the censorship board. The director produced it. Then they began to call out crew members randomly to check if they had their Kano State censorship board identification with them. About three actors had forgotten their id cards at home. The police served them with a “court summons,” but the summons said that rather than going to the mobile court they should go to the censorship board to present their identification.(Readers, please correct me if I’ve made errors on this.)
The feeling among those I spoke to was that with such raids on film locations the Kano State Censorship Board was not merely trying to “sanitize” the industry but “destroy” it. One actor told me that he paid the fee to register with the censorship board three months ago, but he is yet to be called in for the interview that is necessary before he is given his registration. As seen in the Iyan-Tama case (for more explanation in the words of the director general of the censor’s board, see this interview), the magistrate court attached to the censorship board does not find proof of payment for registration acceptable proof for registration. In the case of this actor, he has tried his best to complete the paperwork and the delay in completing it is from the board. If this actor works in state, he is at risk being arrested and fined by the censorship board. There are directors who have asked him to appear in their Kano productions but he has had to turn down the work because he does not want to be arrested for not having completed his registration.
In other news, there has been a radio announcement on the government radio station, Radio Kano, that actor/director Adam Zango (who currently resides in Kaduna and was among the first to be jailed by the mobile court attached to the censorship board after the Hiyana scandel) is “wanted” by the magistrate court in Kano and that he should be brought from anywhere in the country back to Kano to pay a fine of N100,000 and continue the prison sentence he had not completed in Kano. I spoke with Zango’s manager Falalu Dorayi yesterday, who told me that an appeal has been made to the high court and Adam Zango had been given bail. He also told me that their lawyer had said they have no business with the magistrate court in Kano, since they are on appeal at the high court. According to Dorayi, the magistrate court has no authority to make such an announcement, but the announcement has succeeded in causing extra worry/danger to the “wanted” actor/director/musician and his colleagues.
I am trying to transcribe and translate the interviews I did with Dorayi and with the crew member of the film whose registered colleagues were arrested. If I complete them, I will post them on this blog.
Today I also went to the latest court case in MOPPAN’s (Motion Picture Practitioner’s Association of Nigeria) lawsuit against the Kano State Censor’s Board. I arrived late because I went with my neighbor to pay a “get well” visit to a friend, and discovered via the lawyers who were chatting outside that it has been adjourned until Thursday at noon, at the federal high court, Court Road.
For more information about the ongoing censorship crisis in Kano, see other posts:
From/On Censor’s/Critic’s perspective:
Hard Times in Kannywood from NEXT
Yesterday, Iyan-Tama was finally granted bail after almost two and a half months in prison.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Umar said the court has nullified Iyan-Tama’s earlier trial, saying the trial, which was carried out by chief Magistrate Ahmad, contravened due process of litigation and was not properly conducted.
She, therefore, ordered for a retrial of the case.
The court has, however, granted the appellant bail on self-cognisance with a bond of N500, 000 pending the trial by another magistrate.
Iyan-Tama apparently is to be given no compensation for the two and a half months in prison (from the end of December until mid-March) he has already served for the conviction after a trial, which was “improperly conducted” in the mobile court attached to the censorship board.
I’m sorry I have been scarce on this blog lately. I’ve been working at home, where I do not have internet, and then travelling (BOB TV in Abuja) so have had scanty internet access. The best place to find an overview of the latest events in the Iyan-Tama case are on the blog of my friend Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz, where he posts the articles he writes for Leadership.
Leading up to the hearing that took place on Wednesday, March 11, (later than initially planned), one of the houses associated with Iyan-Tama was attacked. According to Abdulaziz, at the state high court hearing, the attorney general of Kano State challenged the original ruling in the Iyan-Tama case given by magistrate Mukhtar Ahmad, the judge at the mobile court attached to the Censorship Board.
He 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.
On March 16, the high court will rule on the appeal.
In other news, here is an article on the Kannywood crisis and featuring my friend Sulaiman Abubakar published by last Sunday’s NEXT, and interviews I carried out with Sulaiman Abubakar and an edited down version of the interview I carried out with the Director General of the Censorship Board, the entire transcript of which can be found on this blog.
And finally here is an interview Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz carried out with chairman of the actor’s guild of Nigeria, Kano chapter (this group being separate from MOPPAN) for Leadership
I received an email today updating me on the Iyan Tama case.
An application was made for bail pending appeal, and the hearing has been set for 5 March, about two weeks from now. Also, according to the person who wrote me:
The magistrate judge is still hindering the speed of the process as the record collected by high court is half typed and nobody could read or understand his handwriting. Therefore, the record is taken back to him for type setting. Note, the special panel cannot do anything without the record.
Yesterday evening, I went to Zoo Road to carry out an interview with Hausa producer and actor Nura Husseini and heard that there had been more raids on Zoo Road yesterday afternoon. A couple of editors were arrested. When a singer in one of the music studios asked the police why they came into the studio “ba sallama” (with no greeting), they arrested her too. I’m not sure whether they were held in jail overnight like Sulaiman or whether they were taken straight to the mobile court. Apparently, this time they were looking for individuals who had not individually registered with the censorship board.
(For a background on the censorship crisis in Kano see this post)