Tag Archives: Law in Northern Nigeria

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

Double trouble

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iyan Tama takes Rabo to court for defamation and other lawsuits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Current Censorship Crisis in Kano, posted13 January 2009

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

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

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

Triumph/Trust Editorial Convergences posted 29 January 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking News: Singer Ala denied bail posted 7 July 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

Riots in Jos as okada ban is enforced

I’m in Jos for a few days to rest my (once again) worn down mura-filled head and to do a little research in the Unijos library. Unfortunately, Jos, whose license plates are still inscribed with the now ironic “Home of Peace and Tourism,” yesterday experienced more tension, as commercial motorcyclists protested when a special task force attempted to enforce a ban on their activities. Back in April the Plateau State government passed a ban on okadas, motorcycle taxis, but apparently the ban was not enforced until yesterday.

According to Daily Trust,

Jos — At least four persons were killed while two others were seriously injured in Jos yesterday when commercial motorcycle riders known as okada clashed with men of the task force to enforce the ban on commercial motorcycle operations. The task force had tried to enforce the ban earlier imposed by the Plateau State Government.

State governor Jonah Jang had in April signed into law the bill banning commercial motorcycle operations in Jos-Bukuru metropolis, but the law was not enforced until yesterday.

The special task force drafted to ensure compliance with the ban comprises the police, its mobile unit, men of the federal road safety corps, and the Nigeria Civil Defense Corps.

Men of the task force moved to the Terminus area around 11o’clock in the morning and started apprehending the cyclists. When news got round the city that the security agencies were clamping down on them, the cyclists mobilized and put up resistance.

The okada operators threw stones at men of the task force, who in turn responded by shooting into the air, which added to the commotion as people all around took to their heels while shops and offices around Terminus and Massalacin Juma’a Street were closed down.

Tension mounted as the police used tear gas to disperse the rioting Okada riders, who retreated but later regrouped at different junctions and set up bonfires. Four corpses all with bullet wounds were brought to the Jos Central Mosque around 4 pm yesterday.

Leadership identifies the civilians killed:

The deceased are Hamisu Awwal of Yandoka Street Jos, Sulaiman Usaini of Masallacin Jumma’a Street, Salisu Tela from Toro Local Government, Bauchi State, and Abdullahi Danladi of Audi Line, Jos, a tailor, who was reportedly killed at his home.

Those injured were Muhammad Kabir Abdullahi Gwandu of Kosai Uku. A bullet pierced his chest and came out through his back.One Abdullahi Muhammad sustained a fracture on his upper lap.

The Punch further reports that two policemen were also killed and the palace of the Gbong Gwong, the traditional ruler of Jos, was burnt.

By the time the violence was over, two policemen had been killed, many others wounded and a part of the palace of the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Buba Gyang, was burnt by hoodlums who hijacked a protest by the motorcyclists.

The policemen were said to have been killed along Bauchi Road while trying to enforce the law during the incident that occurred hours after one person died in a clash between herdsmen and farmers in Lapai Local Government Area of Niger State on Sunday.

The Nigerian Tribune gives more information about the burning of the palace:

Nigerian Tribune learnt that the rampaging youth, protesting the ban of commercial motorcycle in Jos and Bukuru, gained access to the palace through the back fence and threw tyres soaked with petroleum and petroleum bomb on the roof, which exploded on landing.

A source close to the palace told the Nigerian Tribune that the youth, numbering about 50, surrounded the palace and the adjacent old secretariat of Jos North Local Government Area, but were repelled by the police from ‘C’ Division, whose station  was close to the palace.

It was learnt that the prompt intervention of the fire service nearby, coupled with mobilisation from other fire service stations within the state capital subsided the inferno and restricted it from engulfing the entire edifice and the old secretariat of the council.

NAN in Next reports:

The Media Officer of the military Special Task Force (STF) on Jos crisis, Kingsley Umoh, also told journalists that the military was not involved.

“But I am sure that the police are capable of enforcing the ban,” he said.

Mr. Umoh, however, said the Army “will watch the situation and we will respond appropriately if there is breakdown of law and order.

“I am sure you know that Okada is a very popular means of transportation, so you should expect some tension when you are trying to enforce that ban. But I know we will get over it,” he said.

Leadership reports that.

The national chairman of Almalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders of Nigeria (ACOMORAN), Alhaji Babangida Shehu Maihula, revealed in a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP that the Plateau State government had turned deaf ears to the association’s effort to engage in dialogue .

“We advised the government to create jobs for our members which it refused to do up to this moment. These youths have no other business,” Babangida explained.

The ACOMORAN chairman further disclosed that the effect of the ban will push thousands of its members into unemployment, and that the association wanted something that will cushion the effect of the sudden unemployment or at least engage them in something temporary.

Babangida also said that the government came out yesterday without consultation with its own committee to arrest motorcyclists an action that escalated into violence because of resistance from the motorcyclists, and the general public. He explained that the hardship commuters will face will not augur well for all and sundry as it will be unbearable.

He also said that the case was before a court of law for hearing and that it was unfortunate that the government of Plateau State did not respect a case that it is in court.

This Day challenges Babangida’s perspective:

The President of the Okada Riders Association Mallam Babangida Shehu who spoke with THISDAY said government did not call them for consultation and dialogue before taking action.

But it was gathered that his claim may not be true. The state government and the state House of Assembly it was learnt, had severally warned against breaking the ban.

Temporary peace has been restored. However, residents disappeared from the streets for fear of another crisis. Military men are patrolling the streets.

For more information, see the following articles. The difference in tone between Northern and Southern-based papers is striking:

Daily Sun: 2 Cops killed as task force, motorcyclists clash in Jos

Daily Trust: “Four Killed in New Jos Trouble”

Leadership: Post-okada ban- Four die in Jos Protest

Nation: Tension in Jos over ban on commercial motorcycles

NEXT: Stampede in Jos over Okada ban

Nigerian Tribune: Jos crisis: Gbong Gwong’s palace burnt

Punch: Jos: Two Policemen killed, monarch’s palace torched

This Day: Fresh Riots erupt in Jos

As a regular patronizer of okadas (or acabas, as they are usually called in the North), which I find invaluable forms of transport since I don’t have a car, I am generally vocally against such bans.While I understand the concern over the danger of this form of transport and certain laws requiring helmets, I feel flat out bans unduly burden those who cannot afford cars or who live far from other forms of public transport. Many people who depend on okadas to reach school or their place of work will now be reduced to trekking for hours to places where they can find taxis. That said, there are certainly legitimate concerns about commercial motorcycles: ranging from the danger to okada drivers and their customers, to pollution, and the impact on traffic flow and car drivers. Bans have successfully been enforced in Port Harcourt and Abuja. And on the comments thread of the This Day article I read a comment in support of the ban from a resident of Port Harcourt, Ben Goro:

Ben Goru 06.08.2010 15:33
I thank all those who have made their comments. If there is any good thing that will happen to this Country is to ban Motor-bike (Okada) in all ramifications. When able Governor Chibuike Amaechi did it in PortHarcourt and its environs, I was then in PH and we all cried foul. But today everybody is praising him. Including the former Okada riders who are now taxi owners and others doing some other dignifying jobs. Until Okada is banned, many victims of Okada riding will not know how much potential they have in going beyond \’Poor masses\’ mentality and doing something spectacular and more honourable. There were no alternatives in PH before the ban was effected on 1st January 2009, although promises were made. You may not know what good intentions Gov Jonah Jang has for all Jos dwellers until the ban is fully effected. The initial pains may be excruciating and difficult, but the long run gains are surely worth it. I am writing from experience. Please join the Plateau Government to stop Okada. Note that Rivers was in a more delicate situation than Jos when the ban was effected. Long live Plateau, long live all residents in Jos.

From my observations of Abuja, the ban somewhat successfully protects all the car owners/drivers from having to be bothered by seeing the “less privileged” zoom past them on motorbikes.  (And, for those who can afford it, the N200-300 Abuja flat rate for a taxi drop is much more comfortable than getting on an acaba. Apparently, there are other less expensive taxi routes in Abuja, although I have not been able to figure them out.) In Abuja, you no longer have to fear the dangerous driving of okadas, just the mad speeding SUVs and drunk drivers, and the wierd dance of cars at intersections where the red lights aren’t working.

In the case of the okada ban in Jos, I am doubly perplexed by the thinking of those who passed this law. In a place, which has so recently suffered from so much violence, and where tension remains very high, I fail to understand the thought behind the passing of and enforcing such a controversial law, which will take away both jobs and transport from an already under-employed population. Unlike Abuja, which has pushed it’s “talakawa” (poor) population to the outskirts of the city, there are still quite a few people who can’t afford cars or taxi drops in Jos, although if one is willing to walk for 20-30 minutes to a main road and then take 4 different connections, maybe one might be able to get where one is going in an hour or two. But beyond this concern, there is also the worry of the impact on the hundreds, if not thousands, of young men who find employment by driving okadas. Vivien, who left a comment on one of my posts about the Jos crisis yesterday, expresses it better than I could:

Could someone find a way to commuinicate to the Plateau State Government that, the last thing we need now is a high rate of unemployed, idle able bodied individuals. this is exactly what the ban on motorcycles will create. For a state in need of peace, we have to get as many people as, is, possile busy with productive activity. Some cities have imposed the ban succesfully, there are many arguements in favour of the ban, true! however Plateau State needs to weigh its options and decide on the lesser evil-Okada-free streets or idle minds/hands coupled with reduced source of livelihood on the Plateau. Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Trust, 1 March 2010, p. 7

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

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

The AFP news report says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josiah also reports that:

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

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

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

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

In a 29 September 2009 article “Iyan Tama: Matters Arising” on the Nigerian News Service, Bolaji Oluwaseun reports that when Iyan-Tama’s counsel went to the Federal High Court of Appeal in Kaduna “to file a motion to stop the retrial”:

The judge assigned to the case ordered Iyan-tama’s counsel to go back to Kano to the magistrate that was assigned the case initially to file the motion to stop the retrial (the same court that sent him to jail for over 3months over false allegations), and that if they refuse to grant the motion then they should then come back to Federal High Court of Appeal in Kaduna to re-file the motion to stop the re-trial.

For those not familiar with the case Oluwaseun gives a summary of the case, pointing out:

After spending over 3 months in jail, Iyan-Tama was granted bail  and a retrial was ordered following a review of the case by the Kano State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice. 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.

But yet after having committed an injustice that can be successfully argued even by a baby lawyer to be a travesty of justice, the said senior magistrate, Alhaji Mukhtari Ahmed still works in the court houses of Kano State.

And after all Iyan-Tama went through he was not compensated for his illegal imprisonment by the Kano State Government.

Olawuseun continues with more opinions about the case and provides about 6 scanned in copies of documentation that allegedly support Iyan-Tama’s case at the end of the article. To read the entire article, see this link. [UPDATE 13 Oct 09. For more recent news about how Iyan-Tama was invited to the Toronto Film festival, and a clip from his banned film Tsintsiya, see this 23 September article from the Nigerian News Service.]

In more general news concerning the National Film and Video Censor’s Board of Nigeria (not the same body as the Kano State Censorship Board), Al-Amin Ciroma in today’s Leadership (“Censor’s Board increases Fees”) writes that the NFVCB is increasing their fees for previewing a film by 30%:

The review, the board said in a release signed by the corporations Assistant Director, Corporate Affairs, Yunusa Mohammed Tanko, is in line with its efforts to offer premium service to its stakeholders.

With the acquisition and installation of modern cinema style preview theatres at our Lagos office, which is capable of handling 35mm celluloid video, as well as a digital lounge for clients, the present fees charged for preview of films and movies, musical videos and others are no more realistic. The sustainability of this heavy resource base is a prerequisite in the effort to offer global best practices in the Nigerian movie industry.

He said the new equipment would enhance and facilitate online preview of films and movies within the minimum time possible. It will also afford owners of the movies the opportunity to follow and track the progress of the preview in a seamless manner without being present physically.

New costs will be as follows:

The review, The corporation’s Assistant Director, Corporate Affairs, Yunusa Mohammed Tanko, said for local films made in Nigerian languages (of 0-15 minutes) will be N10,000, while a Nigerian film in foreign language such as English language will be charged N20,00, while a film meant for exhibition will be charged N25,000.00. In a general perspective, NFVCB has made 30% increment of the applicable fees.

To read the rest of the article, see Al-Amin Ciroma’s blog.

Image of the letter from the NFVCB to Iyan Tama from Nigerian News Service:

Iyan Tamas letter from the National Film and Video Censors Board--see link for more images

Iyan Tama’s letter from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board–see link for more images