A film producer in northern Nigeria has been charged with breaking ludicrously restrictive new Islamic censorship laws.
Hamisu Lamido, known in the Nigerian film world as Iyan Tama, faces a jail term for releasing his film without allowing it to be censored.
Lamido says he did not release the film in Kano and denies he has broken any law or censorship regulation.
Lamido was arrested last Friday and was remanded in custody until his court appearance. His film Tsinstiya (The Broom) , is a Hausa language version of West Side Story , funded by the US embassy in Nigeria.
Co-star of Tsintsiya, Baballe Hayatu said: This is a political thing. It seems the censors have a personal grievance against Iyan Tama. In Kano the film industry is really suffering.
Kannywood star and popular comedian Rabilu Musa alias Dan Ibro has been sentenced to four months imprisonment for allegedly operating an illegal film production company and shooting a film that exposes nudity and immoral acts in contravention of
the Kano State censorship laws.
Dan Ibro was sentenced along with his friend and co-actor Lawal Kaura. According to the Police First Information report read at the chief magistrate's court 14, the duo were accused and arraigned on a two count charge before the court for
operating an unregistered film production company known as Ibro Film Production without registration and exposing nudity and immoral scenes in a film called Ibro Aluko .
The film, according to the censorship lawyers, has contravened section 97 of the state censorship laws. The censorship board argued that the film released without authorisation depicts corrupt acts especially during a singing scene in which a
song called Mar-Mar was organised with half naked women dancing in mesmerising steps and movements that attack the sensibilities of the people of Kano State.
Last year, the Kano State Censorship Board, under the leadership of its new director general, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, had issued new, strict guidelines to both filmmakers and writers in the state.
Article 97 of the censorship regulations states that Any person who ... publicly exhibits any indecent stage show or performance, play or any show or performance tending to corrupt public morals, is guilty of an offense and is liable to
imprisonment for three months or to a fine or to both.
The imprisonment clause has been put into effect many times since.
A standoff between writers and the censorship board is escalating. A letter directed to the five writers' organizations in Kano dated August 12 confirmed a request first made on June 5 for each writer in the state to register individually with
the board before they can publish or distribute writing. The requirements included submission of a comprehensive list of association memberships, biographical data and past publications of every member, and individual subject files to be created
for each author.
In response, the writers' associations, under the leadership of Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, chairman of the Kano Association of Nigerian Authors, went "on strike" for three weeks. The strike ended on August 16, with the writer's
associations promising, in a general communique, that by next week new titles would flood the market.
In an email update to the Association of Nigerian Authors, Yusuf Adamu called on members to demand Rabo's sacking. Write in the papers please, people write.
After an August 25 meeting with both state and national leaders of the ANA, the censorship board agreed to require registration of writers' associations rather than individuals.
Following a directive by the Kano State government, the state censorship board has banned the sale of an ethnic Hausa film, titled On Jos Crisis, circulating in the state on the recent religious crisis in Plateau State.
The Director-General of the Kano State Film Censorship Board, Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim explained that the state government had decided to take the decision claiming that the film may create tension and degenerate into crisis in the state.
He said: the contents of the film are false and capable of creating tension in the state.
Meanwhile, the mobile court on regulating of film activities in the state has passed various sentences on seven individuals for violating film regulations.
Two months imprisonment and a fine were passed for 2 men downloading a banned Hausa song called Mamar in a film named A loko . Others were also sentenced for operating viewing centres near a mosque where they used to admit underage
children into the centres. They were further sentenced to two months with an option of fine each.
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero has destroyed pornographic films, posters and TV games worth millions of naira.
The emir performed the destruction of the films during a ceremony held at the Magistrate Court.
Addressing the gathering, the Emir commended the effort of the state government to fight against indecency, saying that the destruction of the pornographic films and its related items would assist greatly toward the eradication of deviance among
the people , particularly the youth who he described as the leaders of tomorrow.
He assured that Kano Emirate will continue to support and cooperate with the state government to fight every corrupt practices with a view to sanitising the society, and urged the youth in the state to desist from participating in activities that
would tarnish the image of their religion and culture.
Northern Nigerian filmmaker Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama is in prison, a victim of ludicrous censorship laws
In December 2008, a mobile court justice sentenced him to three months in prison and a fine equivalent to $2,500 for allegedly failing to register his company with the Kano State Censorship Board. He was also sentenced to a further year in
prison, with option of fine, for supposedly selling his film Tsintsiya without having it censored by state authorities.
The judge held up Tsintsiya and asked if this was my film. Iyan-Tama said: I said, 'Yes, but it's not for sale in Kano.' The judge said I should answer, 'yes or no, yes or no.'
Tsintsiya is a Nigerian "remake" of Westside Story sponsored by the U.S. embassy, the film won a prize for "Best Film on Social Issues."
I just want to get out and continue with my life, Iyan-Tama said. As of Feb. 13, he was still in prison waiting on his appeal.
Sharia police ordered the closure of an annual music festival funded and organised by the French embassy in northern Nigeria at the weekend.
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 Kano region, 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.
Film censor flees police after being caught with under aged girl and is then nearly lynched by bikers
The director general of the Kano State Film and Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, was nearly lynched over the weekend.
Abdulkarim was rather ironically also noted as a former shariah law enforcer,
The censorship board has been waging a scorched earth campaign against actors, musicians and producers in the state for allegedly promoting immorality. As a result, many artistes fled the state and now ply their trade elsewhere.
The trouble started when a police patrol team accosted Abdulkarim after they saw his car parked in a secluded environment behind a mall with a young girl inside.
Abdulkarim, who insisted that the girl he was found with was his niece, said he was not having an affair with her. But when he 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 a late hour, he panicked.
A police source said when the patrol team attempted to arrest Abdulkarim he took flight in his car.
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 moved to give him a thorough beating.
He was only saved from a lynching by the police who had been in pursuit of his car.