Tag Archives: Iyan-Tama

The ‘second coming’ of Kannywood

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

The ‘second coming’of Kannywood

Saturday, 21 May 2011 01:42 Carmen McCain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timecode: 42:56

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shekarau claimed :

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

And

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

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

Here are just a few examples.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Current Censorship Crisis in Kano, posted13 January 2009

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

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

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

Triumph/Trust Editorial Convergences posted 29 January 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking News: Singer Ala denied bail posted 7 July 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iyan-Tama Multimedia Awards

 

photoI was very humbled and honoured last week, 25 October 2010, to be honoured along with many other journalists and media houses with an Iyan-Tama Multimedia Award in Recognition of Support and Contribution to the Growth and Development of the Hausa Film Industry. I was also very grateful to Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu who collected the plaque and certificate for me, in my absence, and sent me photos on his phone. I hated to miss the event, but I was glad to hear about it from so many friends who had also received the award. Kannywood Online, who also received the award, also has their plaque and certificate on display at their site.

photo (1)

 

Leadership of 1 December 2010 gives a report of the event (I’ve inserted links to the blogs and websites of the awardees where available, so you can check out their work for yourself):

CHIOMA RITA ODILI, who was at the event writes:Iyan-Tama Multimedia is one of the oldest film production outfits in the sprawling Hausa film industry largely based in Kano , known as Kannywood. It was established 13 years ago and through its usually qualitative and meaningful productions as well as innovative stands, has contributed immensely to the growth of the industry till date.

It is therefore with great jubilation that Iyan-Tama Multimedia called on all and sundry to witness its 13th anniversary as well as to celebrate 20 years of the existence of the film industry. The event, which took place at Mambayya House in the heart of Kano , was attended by eminent personalities including traditional leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, journalists and filmmakers.

Several awards were presented in different categories to corporate bodies, diplomatic missions, media houses and individuals who contributed in various respect to the development of Kannywood in its two decades of existence.  Those who were presented with merit awards, at the well-attended ceremony, include the two titles of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group; LEADERSHIP and LEADERSHIP HAUSA.

Editorial director of LEADERSHIP and publisher of FIM Magazine, Malam Ibrahim Sheme was among those honoured under the ‘Dignitaries’ category alongside others including former Kano State governor, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Professors Isa Odidi and Abdalla Uba Adamu [see also his blog -CM], Hajiya Laila Dogon Yaro, Ms Carmen McCain, among others.

Other staff of LEADERSHIP who were presented with certificates of merit in recognition of their contribution included Al-amin Ciroma, Nasir S Gwangwazo, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz and Maje Elhajeej. In this category, several journalists from various media houses were also conferred with the merit award including Rukayya Y Aliyu (Sunday Trust), Bashir Yahuza (Aminya), Nasir Salisu Zango (Freedom Radio) and Sani Maikatanga (former editor of FIM magazine), and host of others.

Moreover, 19 other media organizations including foreign radio stations, TV stations, newspapers and a magazine also received awards at the colourful event. Those who were honoured in this category include Freedom Radio, Gamji TV, Desert Herald, Almizan and Hausa services of BBC, VOA, Radio Germany and Radio France International.

Similarly, the embassies of United States and France were also awarded for their support to the development of Kannywood through cultural diplomacy. Moreover, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), including the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Security Justice and Growth (SJG), as well as the Society for Family Health (SFH), were also among the recipients.

Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu gave an address on the occasion:

In his address, the keynote speaker, Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu who traced the development of Kannywood, vis-à-vis the Iyan-Tama Multimedia, said Kannywood came into being exactly 20 years ago with the release of Turmin Danya as the first Hausa video film. He pointed out that at the time of establishment of Kannywood, there was no similar industry in the whole of Africa, including the now bustling Nollywood.

According to the academic, Iyan-Tama Multimedia Limited has played key roles and contributed immensely in the 20th years of its existence. Notable contributions of the company to the development of Hausa filmmaking is its procurement of modern equipment to boost the level of quality of the movies. Prof Abdalla recalled that Iyan-Tama Multimedia was the first to acquire a PSR-220 which enabled introduction of song scenes in the movies with the recording of “Badakala”, a song which featured in a movie of the same title.

He said, other achievements recorded by Iyan-Tama Multimedia include; the publication of the, now rested, entertainment magazine, Tauraruwa, production of several meaningful films that appeal to all categories of viewers, the first company to stop using songs in Hausa movies despite the obvious appeal. The company, according to the don, was also the first to be sponsored by diplomatic initiative (Tsintsiya, 2008) and the first Kannywood film production company to have its film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. It is also the company with the highest number of awards in its kitty in the whole of the industry.

Iyan-Tama’s film Tsintsiya on sale at Nollywood shop Africa Movie Place in Brooklyn, New York, November 2010 (c) CM

Readers may remember that the director, producer, and actor Alhaji Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama has recently been cleared of all charges, after a drawn out series of court cases filed against him by the Kano State Censorship Board and Iyan-Tama’s own countersuits against the board, following Iyan-Tama’s imprisonment for three months after a trial with a judge later found to be “incompetent” by the Kano State Attourney General. The award ceremony is a particularly poignant way to celebrate the ending of the legal woes of Iyan-Tama Multimedia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iyan Tama takes Rabo to court for defamation and other lawsuits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Current Censorship Crisis in Kano, posted13 January 2009

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

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

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

Triumph/Trust Editorial Convergences posted 29 January 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking News: Singer Ala denied bail posted 7 July 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: