Nigeria: Proceedings against composer of banned song




Proceedings against composer of banned song

A popular Hausa singer in Kano in Northern Nigeria, Ala (real name: Aminu Ladan Abubakar), was arrested in Kano on 4 July 2009 for publishing his song ‘Hasbunallahu’ — a song which was banned by a mobile court judge linked to the Kano State Censorship Board

Ala’s song ‘Hasbunallahu’ is written in the form of a prayer that God should punish those keeping singers from doing their work. It has no bad language in it and mentions no names.

Carmen McCain, who is a PhD candidate in the Department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin, USA, and who is presently doing her research in Kano, reported in her blog that according to an anonymous source, he was arrested by “workers from the Kano State Censorship Board” and detained in a no man’s land police station. She writes:

“Eventually the same day the police were told by a superior to let Ala go, and ordered him to show up at the mobile court attached to the Kano State Censorship Board at 10am on 6 july 2009. When he did, they told him to come back at 10am the following day.

When he and 60 other friends, supporters, and journalists — including journalists from BBC, Radio Deutche Welle, Freedom Radio, Radio Kano, Leadership, Trust, Fim Magazine, and others — showed up at 10am, Tuesday 7 July, they were all told to come back at 2pm.

When they came back at 2pm, Ala was finally read his charges: he was accused of having published his song ‘Hasbunallahu’ without the approval of the censorship board.

Ala pleaded not guilty, and the prosecutor asked to reconvene on Thursday 9 July. He was denied bail and taken to jail in a police vehicle. The vehicle had been waiting for Ala before the court even started.”

Charged for public exhibition without approval
The Daily Triumph reported that the charge read: “You, Aminu Abubakar ‘Ala’ sometimes around the 1st of March, 2009 at Gandun Albasa by Zoo road Kano Municipal Local Government Area within Kano Magistrate Division, released your produced song titled ‘Hasubanallahu’ for public exhibition without obtaining the requisite approval for such public exhibition from State Censorship Board, contrary to section 16 of the Board’s Law 2001.”

The charge further explained that such an act is punishable under section 16 B of the same law.

Report from the court case
A journalist told Carmen McCain that “there are politics under it. We are in the political era.”

Carmen McCain published excellent and detailed notes of how the court case against Aminu Ala proceeded:

“Ala sat on a bench next to the wall in a crisp yellow babanriga. His lawyer, in a suit but no wig, sat at a table at the front of the court with other court workers. Phones kept going off, although the court requires them to be turned off. I noticed that I was one of four women in the room: Fati Nijar, Rukkaya the journalist from Trust, and another woman I did not know. Two men with video cameras (I am told later they are from Hikima Media, the company owned by Ala’s sponsor) shot footage of the room. The gavel is struck three times, we all rose with a hum.”

The judge asked Ala: “Do you speak Hausa or English?”

Ala responded: “Hausa.”

The prosecuting and defending lawyers identified themselves.

The charges were read in Hausa. Ala was accused of having released his song ‘Hasbunnallahu’ without passing it through the Kano State Censorship Board (the name in Hausa has “film” in the title).

Ala was asked: “Gaskiya ko ba gaskiya ba ne?” (True or Not True?)

He replied: “Ba gaskiya ba ne.” (Not true)

In the meantime, more benches kept being moved in and more and more people kept coming into the court.

The prosecutor said he would like to “apply for another date to air this matter.”

The defense said: “I don’t oppose the issue of having another date, but” that they were making a petition from 340 of the Criminal Proceedure Code from 3605 of the 1999 Constitution, which was an application for admitting bail to an accused person pending his trial. The lawyer continued that Ala had been told to show up in court yesterday and he had showed up and he also showed up today when it was postponed.

“This attitude of the accused shows he will attend whenever he is told to. The accused may not tamper with the course of justice. We want you to exercise justice by letting the presumed innocent person go on bail.”

The prosecutor responded that “the issue of bail is discretionary matter of the honourable court.” He encouraged the court to “exercise this discretion judiciously.”

The judge asked the defence if he wanted to say something. He said he did not object.
Still more people were still coming trying to find space to sit in the court.

The judge said: “The appeal is adjourned to next tomorrow.”
Justice Mukhtar Ahmad then got up and walked out.

Ala was detained in jail until 9 July 2009 when he was released on bail with the condition that he would not speak with journalists.

Follow the link below to read Carmen McCain’s full report.

Click to see map of Nigeria on Google Maps

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

Read more…

‘An attack on liberty and freedom of expression’

The Kano State Branch of the Association of Nigerian Authors ‘frowns at the arrest of Ala’:

Date: Wed, 8 Jul 2009 05:28:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: Dr. Yusuf Adamu
Subject: Press Release

Press Release

At an emergency meeting held at the Bayero University Kano, today, July 8, 2009, the Association of Nigerian Authors Kano State Branch frowns at the arrest of one of its members Alhaji Aminuddeen Ladan Abubakar (ALA) over the alleged release of a song that has not been censored by the Kano State Censorship Board.

The Association is seriously looking at the implication of the arrest which is seen as an attack on liberty and freedom of expression. The Association has observed that the authorities in Kano are hostile to art and literature. This action and other past actions of the authorities are seriously undermining the position of Kano State as the leading centre of learning, art and literature.

The Association wishes to advise the authority to be cautious on the way it handles the matters of authors and other producers of art. Art and literature are part and parcel of every society and no society can do without it.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Yusuf M Adamu
Alh. Balarabe Sango II Branch
Public Relations Officer

Yusuf M Adamu PhD (Medical Geographer)
Associate Professor of Geography
Room B56, Department of Geography Bayero University, PMB 3011
Kano, Nigeria.

Read Carmen McCain’s reports from Kano

Carmen McCain (‘A Tunanina’ blog) – 7 July 2009:

‘My notes on the court case of Aminu Ala today at the Mobile court attached to the Kano State Censorship Board’

Carmen McCain (‘A Tunanina’ blog) – 7 July 2009:

‘Breaking News: Singer Ala denied bail’

Carmen McCain (‘A Tunanina’ blog) – 6 July 2009:

‘Arrest of singer Aminu Ala and the most recent scuffle of MOPPAN with the Kano State Censorship Board’

Other sources

Journalist Ibrahim Sheme’s blog – 9 July 2009:

‘Aminu Ala released, but…’

Daily Triumph – 8 July 2009:

‘Ala remanded in prison custody’

Carmen McCain (‘A Tunanina’ blog) – 8 June 2009:

‘Mobile Court bans listening to 11 Hausa songs’

Kano State Censorship Board:

Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz’s blog – 14 February 2009:

‘Review of Adam Zango’s Satire on Censorship and his Incarceration’

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