Tag Archives: Kaduna

The Danger of a Single Story and the Good Samaritans of Arewa

I don’t think I’ve ever been so behind on this blog as I have been this time, going for nearly two months without posting anything. Forgive me. I have been overwhelmed by several other writing projects and much too much travel. I’ll try to catch up on links to a few of my pieces in Weekly Trust in the next few days, but I thought that last post should be followed by the column that came right after it.

To read the hard copy, click on this link to be taken to a flickr page where you can read it online. Otherwise, scroll below the photo and read the text as copied below (I’ve made a few small edits and added links for this blog).

The danger of a single story and the Good Samaritans of Arewa

Saturday, 30 April 2011 00:00 Carmen McCain

In a crisis such as we had last week, one comes out of it shell-shocked, horrified by the acts of inhumanity human beings are capable of. How can a human being cut another human being’s throat, send them hurtling into flames? What reason is there behind the destruction of property, the burning of churches, and mosques, the killing of youth corpers, the massacre of villagers? The killing of youth corpers in Bauchi has understandably led to rage around the country. Facebook pages have been created in their honour and linked back in particular to the page of Ukeoma Ikechukwu, whose last status update as was how he was nearly killed forresisting election malpractice was tragically prescient.  The murder of these young people on the cusp of their lives is horrifying and must be appropriately responded to by reforms to a system which too often leaves corpers insufficiently protected. Yet, I am also appalled by the irrational mob-mentality, the backlash of hatred I’ve seen on the internet, directed not just against the murderers of the youth corpers but against the entire ambiguous region of the north, lashing out often as much against other victims of violence as against the perpetrators of it. As I wrote this article, I got into a surreal and sickening online argument with someone passionately calling for innocent people from the north to be murdered in retaliation for the deaths of her fellow youth corpers.

Much of this rhetoric comes from people who have never been further north than Abuja and who stereotype an entire region the way Africa is stereotyped by ignorant outsiders, but some of it is furthered by those who have lived briefly in the “north” and have had traumatic experiences. One woman, who schooled in Jos, recounted how her own neighbors turned against her in a crisis and would have, she presumed, killed her “had not a good Samaritan intervened.” What is glaring to me in this story is that she focuses on the betrayal and treachery of those who attacked her to denounce the entire “north”, while mentioning the acts of the “good Samaritan” as only a postscript. While this is certainly an understandable response to a terrible experience, it is also only one side of the story. In “The Danger of A Single Story,” author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has spoken of how the insistence on “only negative stories” creates “stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

In these times of crisis, it is the horrifying stories that make the headlines, the betrayal, the treachery, the youth corpers murdered, the children trampled by mobs, the places of worship burned. Far less heard are the stories of ordinary human beings behaving with decency, treating their neighbors as they themselves would want to be treated, yet I argue that these people are far more numerous than the extremists and rogues who pillage and kill. It is not that there are not many stories of violence, abuse, and injustice against minorities in the north, for there are, and they must be addressed, but it is that these experiences are only a small part of the larger story. Adichie asserts that “I’ve always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

Last week I told the story of Pastor Habila Sunday, who was defended in Kano by a Muslim man who told his attacker “before you kill him, you’ll have to kill me.” An article in NEXT of 24 April, recounts the story of Adamu Bologi, a Muslim librarian in Minna, who risked his life multiple times to help several Christian families to safety. There are many other stories of this sort, less heard because they are less dramatic, but which illustrate people acting out true neighborliness. Last week, I thought I had lost a close friend of mine–a Christian–to the violence in Kano. I called her dozens of times but both of her phones were switched off for days. When I finally heard from her, she recounted a harrowing story. As the tension mounted that Monday, April 18, her manager at work suggested she leave her car in the office. He thought she would be safer if he gave her a ride home. However, around Unguwa Uku, they ran into a roadblock of burning tires manned by rioters. “There was no way we could pass, so we slowed down.” Hoodlums began beating the car and breaking the glass of the windows. One of them reached through the window and snatched her handbag which held her phones and her keys. “When they saw me with my hair open, they said, ‘She’s a pagan, bring her out.’” Her manager protested “I’m a Muslim, I’m a Muslim,” but as he saw that these thugs, who appeared drugged up and high, wanted to injure her anyway, he accelerated and sped through the block, driving through fire, to get to the other side. Seeing that it would be too risky to continue on to her house, he dropped her at a police station. She eventually was able to call a friend, who came with her husband a few hours later to take her home with them. She stayed with this Muslim family for another week until she felt safe enough to go to her own home.

Another young man, Suleiman Garba Sule who teaches part time at a school while waiting for NYSC to place him, told me how when the news of the violence in Kaduna and Kano reached them, two Christian members of the staff, originally from Kaduna, were terrified. Their Muslim colleagues advised that they stay on the school premises until the roads became safe, and they ended up staying overnight in the school management house, until Suleiman called and told them it would be safe to leave. Dangiwa Onisemus wrote me that his aunties and cousins were protected by the “Muslim community in Malali technical school, Kaduna. Even as I speak, the Christian faithfuls are still staying there…. The Muslim community stood firm to see that the Christians are not touched.”

My friend, Dr. K. Korb  in Jos wrote me of a family friend, a Fulani Muslim, who had only recently finished building his house on a plot of land that happened to be in a majority Christian neighborhood. “During the post-election violence, the Christian youths came to attack his brand new home. His Christian neighbors, including a number of youths and old men, confronted the angry crowd. Pointing in the direction of his own home, a Christian neighbor told the youths, “See over there? That is my house. If you are going to burn down this house, you must burn my house down first.” The angry youths relented and moved on.” Our friend “was thankful … but he feared for his family’s safety so he moved them back into his brother’s house in the Muslim part of town. Shortly thereafter, the Muslim youths came to attack the house next to our friend’s brother that happened to belong to a Christian. Our friend and his brother quickly moved the Christian family into the brother’s house to protect them. Once the family was safely inside, our friend and his brother confronted the angry crowd and told the youths that they would not burn down that Christian house. The angry youths relented and moved on.”

These stories do not all contain  great heroic feats, just accounts of human decency, of neighborliness and friendship that show how interconnected communities actually are. These are the stories that are not often heard but which are the most common in times of crisis. And it is these stories that are the most helpful in pursuing justice, for it is only when we see those who are different from us as our neighbors and our brothers that we will be able to work together to change corrupt systems which perpetuate such violence.

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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)