Singer Sadiq Zazzabi (real name: Sadiq Usman Saleh) was released on bail on 6 March 2017 after having been detained since 1 March 2017 for allegedly releasing a song before receiving approval from the Kano State Censorship Board in the country’s north, reported Nigerian newspaper Premium Times on 6 March 2017.
The newspaper reported on 28 February 2017 that the singer received a summons to show up in court the next day to defend himself for the release of the song.
According to Nigerian newspaper Daily Trust, the singer was charged with the release of an uncensored song and indecent dress, which he pleaded guilty to, leading the presiding judge to remand the singer to prison until the hearing could continue two days later.
However, the court did not sit on 3 March 2016 and re-adjourned after the weekend on 6 March 2017.
The singer was released on bail in the amount of 100,000 Nigerian Naira (approx. $315 USD) and under the guarantee of a member of the music writers association of the state and a civil servant. His next hearing is set for 27 March 2017.
In a 9 March 2017 statement, Zazzabi tweeted: “I know that my detention was a trial that was preordained and no one could have stopped it happening. I take it in good faith and remain firm in my conviction that the truth will always prevail.”
Singer alleges he’s a political target
Zazzabi told Premium Times that he was being targeted because of his support of Rabiu Kwankaso, the former governor of Kano State who is in a political battle with current governor Abdullahi Ganduje. The state government has denied the singer’s allegations.
“Every singer has his hero, and my hero is Kwankwaso,” the singer told the newspaper, explaining:
“I sang an album for him which I sent to the Kano State Censors Board on the 6 of January 2017. The censors’ board censored my song and asked that I will need to remove some part of the music. They never sent the part they wanted out till today [28 February 2017]. Although just after I submitted the song to the censors’ board I also received an invitation from the SSS [Nigeria’s State Security Service] which I honoured. I explained to them the whole thing and they subsequently allowed me go.”
Head of the censorship board Ismaila Afakallahu denied the singer’s account, telling the newspaper: “What we are doing is what we are expected to do as a regulatory commission. We are not witch-hunting anybody. We are doing this for the benefit of all of us.”
Troubling rise of artistic freedom violations
In 2016, Freemuse registered a rise in serious violations in Nigeria, rising from just one case the year before to 15 cases in 2016, which reflects the complex political and religious systems in the country.
The national government, local state authorities, religious institutions, artistic communities, militant extremists, lobbying groups and even families are responsible for these violations, which are taking place in the Muslim-dominated North and Christian-dominated South.
Artists have to not only navigate these actors, they also have to manoeuvre through a complex system of censorship. In addition to national censorship boards, artists need to contend with states such as Kano in the North and Lagos in the South, which also have their own censorship boards.
» For more analysis on the country read the Nigeria section of Freemuse’s Art Under Threat in 2016 annual report here
» Twitter – 9 March 2017
Sadiq Zazzabi statement
» Premium Times – 6 March 2017
Pro-Kwankwaso Kaon singer, Zazzabi, released on bail
» Daily Trust – 3 March 2017
Kano musician may spend more days in prison
» Premium Times – 1 March 2017
Court sends Kano musician to prison over new song
» Premium Times – 28 February 2017
Kano musicians faces state disciplinary panel over new song
More from Freemuse
More from Freemuse
» 7 February 2017: Art Under Threat in 2016: Nigeria
»13 January 2016: Nigeria: Singer detained for song critical of politician