cc. Following a spate of arrests of prominent industry figures on charges of alleged indecency and failure to register new films, Carmen McCain, Nazir Ahmed Hausawa and Ahmed Alkanawy discuss the decline of the previously thriving Hausa-language film industry in Kano, Nigeria. Highlighting the authorities’ efforts to crack down on ostensibly illicit and immoral material under the rubric of sharia law, the authors survey the arrests, detentions, fines, and shop closures endured by those involved in the industry.
Nigeria's northern city of Kano was until last year the home of a thriving film industry in the Hausa language. Hausa language ‘video-films’ are similar to the larger ‘Nollywood’ Nigerian film industry, but are stylistically different from their southern cousins, with most films including song and dance sequences influenced by Indian films and hip-hop music videos. In August 2007, a sex scandal involving a leaked cell phone video of a Hausa film actress Maryam ‘Hiyana’ Usman having sex with her boyfriend Usman Bobo instigated a change in the leadership of the Kano State Censorship Board. The board had been instituted in 2001 after the implementation of Islamic sharia law as a compromise measure between the filmmakers and the government. The censorship board enabled the films to continue being made but with some restrictions on dress and interaction between male and female actors. (The Kano State Censorship Board is a separate entity from the National Film and Video Censor's Board, which files and gives ratings to all films made in Nigeria. Hausa filmmakers are required to submit their films to both bodies if they want to sell their films in Kano State.) The scandal exploded onto an already tense atmosphere. Earlier in the year, four actresses had gone into hiding after hisbah, sharia police, had interpreted a party in their honour as a ‘polygamous lesbian wedding,’ and in June, before the ‘Hiyana’ scandal broke, A Daidaita Sahu, a Kano state agency for the ‘reorientation’ of society, organised several book and film burnings.
Following the sex scandal, the new director general of the Kano State Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, formerly commandant of the hisbah, was appointed in August 2007. Since this administrative change, there have been multiple arrests and acts of intimidation against the film industry and related entertainment businesses in Kano. Actor, musician, and director Adam Zango was arrested and sentenced to three months imprisonment and a fine of N100,000 (naira) in September 2007 for releasing a music video CD, Bahaushiya, without first submitting it to the Kano State censorship board. In October 2008, widely popular Hausa comedian Rabilu Musa ('dan Ibro) and his colleague Lawal Alhassan Kaura were arrested and sentenced to two months in prison by a mobile court. Their were arrested on two counts: 1) For ‘indecent dancing’ in the films Ibro Aloko and Ibro K’auran Mata, films which had been released before the change in administration of the Censorship Board and which possessed a certificate of approval from the board; and 2) for supposedly operating a production company without registering with the board. Musa and Kaura denied the charges but less than an hour after they had been arrested and brought to the mobile court were convicted and sentenced to two months in prison with no option of a fine. The November 2008 issue of Fim Magazine points to speculations that the arrests were political as the satirical song ‘Mamar Mamar’ in Ibro Aloko, which made fun of a striped cloth often worn by Governor Shekarau of Kano State, was being used by critics to mock the governor.
In another rumoured political move, Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama, one of the pioneers of the Hausa film industry, was arrested in May 2008 after his film Tsintisya, sponsored by the US embassy, won an award for best ‘Social Issue’ film at the Zuma Film Festival in Abuja. The actor, director, producer, and 2007 gubernatorial candidate was accused of not registering his company with the Kano State censorship board and for releasing the film Tsintsiya in Kano without passing it through the state censorship board. Iyan-Tama has receipts for his registration with the board (now uploaded to http://freeiyantama.blogspot.com) and had publicly stated that the film was not for sale in Kano State, though a copy of the film, which an actor claimed was a personal copy, was confiscated from a desk drawer in a video shop during a police raid. Although on bail while the court case was ongoing, he was again arrested and detained for a week in August 2008. Most recently, on December 30th and after a police witness who had been subpoenaed did not show up in court, the judge refused to reschedule the court date as the defence and prosecution had agreed and went ahead with sentencing Iyan-Tama to 15 months in prison and a fine of N300,000, saying, according to Leadership reporter Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz, that ‘justice delayed is justice denied. Justice is three way traffic; justice to the accused, justice to the state and justice to the prosecution.’ On 12 January an appeal was struck down because the court was not satisfied with the way it was prepared. Iyan-Tama is currently serving his sentence in the Goron Dutse Prison, Kano.
In addition to these prison sentences, there have been many other acts of intimidation against studios and lower profile film industry workers, including a requirement that each participant in the film industry, from actor to editor to video seller, register individually with the censorship board. So far, according to Ahmed Alkanawy, director of the Centre for Hausa Cultural Studies, over 1000 youths involved in the film industry and related entertainment industries ‘have been arrested in the name of shari’a and sanitization.’ Among those arrested are ‘download and transfer business’ workers who have been convicted for using cell phones for transferring Hausa music, audio and video, those who sell traditional medicine for advertising their wares over a loudspeaker and displaying graphic photographs or drawings to illustrate their cures, and those who run video gaming centres and football viewing centres without registering with the censorship board. Though sharia law is invoked, most ‘censorship’-related cases are being tried in a state magistrate court, a mobile court on Airport Road presided over by magistrate Mukhtar Ahmed. Defendants are often arrested and convicted within an hour, without the benefit of legal representation. Some are given prison sentences while others are given the option of paying a fine.
One case, which did not make it to court, involved a hisbah raid on the home of Hausa film actress Zainab Umar and her sisters in March 2008. According to witnesses interviewed by reporter Nasir Gwangwazo, they were accused of living ‘in a house without suitable relation,’ detained food and water and kept overnight in a cell with men, propositioned by police, and warned not to speak with the media. More recently, in November 2008, there was a sweep of arrests of industry workers. Following a mass protest by film actresses who publicly changed political affiliation from the party of the governor, the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), to the majority political party People's Democratic Party (PDP), police raided studios along Zoo Road, where most studios are located, closing them and arresting 21 studio managers and other studio workers. Those who could not produce certificates of registration with the censorship board in the mobile court were given large fines. The November edition of Fim Magazine reported that Rabo had said there were specific film practitioners the court particularly wanted to catch and the magazine printed a list of 32 practitioners ‘in danger’ of being arrested. (On the list were two of the co-authors of this report: Ahmad Alkanawy and Naziru Hausawa). In December 2008, according to Fim Magazine and with additional information from Ahmed Alkanawy, Director Rabi’u Ibrahim of HRB studio – whose name was on the list printed by Fim – was arrested and fined N80,000 for selling a DVD compilation with an ‘indecent cover’ of the American television series Desperate Housewives in his shop. His shop was closed and sealed for three days. When the authorities came to re-open the shop three days later, they saw the remaining copies of Desperate Housewives and the recently banned film Ibro Aloko, and he was taken back to court and given another N60,000 fine. He has not been allowed to re-open his shop since that time.
* Carmen McCain is the director of the Hausa Home Video Resource Center, Bayero University. Nazir Ahmed Hausawa is the manager of the Golden Goose Studio. Ahmed Alkanawy is the director of the Centre for Hausa Cultural Studies. The authors may be contacted at [email][email protected].
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
 The information in this report comes from oral testimonies and the following news articles: Al-Amin Ciroma, ‘Hiyana’s Sex Scandal,’ 19 August 2007, and Mansur Sani Malam, ‘Kano Reels out New Censorship Laws,’ 24 September 2007, Leadership http://www.leadershipnigeria.com; ‘Nigeria 'lesbian wedding' denied,’ BBC News, 28 April 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/6603853.stm; the following articles from Film Magazine publisher Ibrahim Sheme’s blog: ‘Hiyana - Tsiraici a fagen shirin fim,’ 12 August 2007; ‘Nude Video Causes a Stir,’ 13 August 2007; ‘Censoring Movies and Books in Kano,’ 25 September; ‘Film Burning in Kano,’ 26 September http://ibrahim-sheme.blogspot.com; Ahmad M. Sarari. ‘Press Release: Brief report on the state of film industry in Kano State, Nigeria’, 28 February 2008, http://en.afrik.com/article12615.html; Lamara Garba Azare. ‘Rabo is our problem—Sani Mu’azu’ New Nigerian. 20 April 2008, http://www.newnigeriannews.com/movies.htm;Sani Maikatanga. ‘Shekara 1 da Mallam Rabo a Industiri: Ci Gaba ko Koma Baya?’ Fim. January 2009. pp. 33-42.
 In 2008, the censorship board began a campaign against Hausa novelists as well. For an overview see the following articles: Maryam Ali Ali. ‘Kano Government is Using Religion to Kill Literature. Daily Trust. 2 August 2008. http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200808040546.html; Sumaila Umaisha. ‘Kano censorship crisis: Far from over (report) Everything Literature Blogspot http://www.everythinliterature.blogspot.com/; Amina Koki Gizo. ‘We Will Write About Them’
Interview with Hausa novelist Sa'adatu Baba.’ IPS News. 6 September 2008. http://ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=43816 Amina Koki Gizo. ‘Writers, Film-makers Defy Censors’ IPS News, 12 September 2008,http://ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=43857; Muhammad K. Muhammad. ‘Kano Writers Call off Strike.’ Daily Trust. 24 August 2008. http://www.dailytrust.com/content/view/16676/75/
 Yusha'u Adamu Ibrahim, ‘How Adam A. Zango Ended up in Prison,’ Weekly Trust, 1 October 2007, http://allafrica.com/stories/200710011384.html
Mansur Sani Malam. ‘Hausa Actor, Ibro Sentenced to Two Month Imprisonment’ Leadership 7 October 2008. http://allafrica.com/stories/200810070348.html; Nasiru Muhammad. ‘Dan Ibro goes to prison for 2 months’ Daily Triumph. 8 October 2008. http://www.triumphnewspapers.com/dan8102008.html; Nasiru Muhammed. ‘Prison controller refutes Ibro’s release rumour.’ Daily Triumph. 16 October 2008. http://www.triumphnewspapers.com/prion16102008.html; Sani Maikatanga and Ibrahim Musa Giginyu. ‘Rabo Ya binne Ibro a gidan yari’ Fim. November 2008. pp. 10-14.
 Jaafar Jaafar. ‘The travails of Kano entertainer, Iyantama’ Sunday Trust. 4 January 2009.http://www.dailytrust.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2102&Itemid=49; ‘Alk’ali Ya D’aure Iyan-Tama Kafin Kammala Sauraron Shaida’ Leadership Hausa. 2-8 January 2009. p. 14;
Adamu Abuh. ‘Court jails CNPP chief over illegal films.’ Guardian. 31 December 2008. http://odili.net/news/source/2008/dec/31/13.html;‘No Justice: Iyan-Tama Jailed by Corrupt Officials’ Free Iyan-Tama blog, 31 December 2008. http://freeiyantama.blogspot.com/2008/12/no-justice-iyan-tama-jailed-by-corrupt.html; Ibrahim Sheme. ‘Iyan-Tama: Another Case of Injustice: An Open Letter to Governor Ibrahim Shekarau’ http://ibrahim-sheme.blogspot.com/2009/01/another-case-of-injustice.html; Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz.‘Filmmaker, Iyantama Sentenced to 15-month Imprisonment,’ The Musings of a Young Journalists. 31 December 2008. http://abdulazizfagge.blogspot.com/2008/12/filmmaker-iyantama-sentenced-to-15.html; Sani Mai Katanga ‘Iyan-Tama a Kejin Rabo’ Fim. June 2008. pp. 49-55.
 Muhammad A. Muhammad. ‘Kano Censorship Board and contemporary challenges.’ Daily Trust. 5 December 2008. http://www.dailytrust.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=432&Itemid=14; Sani Maikatanga . ‘Shekara 1 da Mallam Rabo a Industiri: Ci Gaba ko Koma Baya?’ Fim. January 2009. 33-42. Nasiru Muhammad. ‘KNSG bans sale of film on Jos crisis.’ Daily Triumph. 12 January 2009. http://www.triumphnewspapers.com/knsg1212009.html; Mansur Sani Malam. ‘Kano Bans Film on Jos Crisis.’ Leadership. 12 January 2009. http://leadershipnigeria.com/news/149/ARTICLE/5330/2009-01-12.html
 Nasir Gwangwazo. ‘The War Against Film-making.’ Leadership. March 2008, http://www.leadershipnigeria.com/product_info.php?products_id=25209
 Please note that while the Leadership article cited below says that 10 studios were raided and 9 people were arraigned. Baba Karami in a personal communication on 9 January 2009 stated that 21 people were taken before the mobile court. Mansur Sani Malam. ‘Nigeria: Emir Bayero Donates N2 Million to Qur’anic School.’ Leadership. 22 October 2008. http://allafrica.com/stories/200810220784.html
 ‘Wad’anda Rabo ‘zai kama’’ Fim. November 2008. p. 13.
 ‘Abin da yasa aka kama Rabi’u H.R.B.’ Fim. January 2009. p. 53
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THESE ONGOING EVENTS, SEE THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES:
‘No Justice: Iyan-Tama Jailed by Corrupt Officials’ On the Free Iyan-Tama blog, http://freeiyantama.blogspot.com/2008/12/no-justice-iyan-tama-jailed-by-corrupt.html
‘Kano Bans Film on Jos Crisis.’ By Mansur Sani Malam in Leadership. 12 January 2009. http://leadershipnigeria.com/news/149/ARTICLE/5330/2009-01-12.html
‘The travails of Kano entertainer, Iyantama’ by Weekly Trust reporter Jaafar Jaafar
Weekly Trust, Sunday, 4 January 2009
‘Iyan-Tama: Another Case of Injustice: An Open Letter to Governor Ibrahim Shekarau’ by Ibrahim Sheme, editor of Leadership Newspaper and publisher of Fim Magazine, http://ibrahim-sheme.blogspot.com/2009/01/another-case-of-injustice.html
‘Court jails CNPP chief over illegal films.’ by Guardian reporter Adamu Abuh. 31 December 2008. http://odili.net/news/source/2008/dec/31/13.html
‘Filmmaker, Iyantama Sentenced to 15-month Imprisonment,’ by Leadership reporter Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz, 31 December 2008, http://abdulazizfagge.blogspot.com/2008/12/filmmaker-iyantama-sentenced-to-15.html
‘Nigeria: Hausa Actor, Ibro Sentenced to Two Month Imprisonment’ by Mansur Sani Malam in Leadership Newspaper: http://allafrica.com/stories/200810070348.html
‘Writers, Film-makers Defy Censors’ by Amina Koki Gizo on IPS News, 12 September 2008, http://ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=43857
‘The War Against Film-making’ by Nasir Gwangwazo, Leadership, March 2008, http://www.leadershipnigeria.com/product_info.php?products_id=25209
‘Press Release: Brief report on the state of film industry in Kano State, Nigeria’ by Ahmad M. Sarari (National Vice President MOPPAN) , 28 February 2008, http://en.afrik.com/article12615.html
‘Taking on Nigeria’s Islamic Censors’ by Andrew Walker, BBC. October 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7024630.stm
‘Censoring movies and books in Kano: text of press release by Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim’ 25 September, 2007, http://ibrahim-sheme.blogspot.com/2007/09/censoring-movies-and-books-in-kano.html