An Open Letter To The American Embassy In Nigeria.


Asabe Murtala



It is said and widely accepted that the United States of America is the world most democratic society on earth. Whether the statement is true or false is a debatable subject for another day. An in-dismissible fact remains that the United States of America is unarguably one of the leading strong economies, democracies and civilities of the world. As I am writing this line I am dead assured that U.S. is a respecter of the rule of law, protector of human rights (whatever that stands for), respecter of a constituted authority, a decent society, a promoter of good governance and above all a mini-world-where all races and colours of the world are represented in that society.


As a stakeholder in the film industry in Kano State, my attention is accurately drawn to the uninformed intermingling between the U.S. Embassy and some of our colliques in the industry. For sure I know the embassy would not in any way, under Her Excellency Ms Rennie Sanders, the American Ambassador in Nigeria, help in promoting disrespectful attitudes towards constituted authority and the rule of law. This is of course the last thing the U.S. Embassy could do, as far as my understanding of this great nation is concerned.


Let me quickly drive my point home. The Kano State Censorship Board Law was enacted in 2001. With the existence of this Law it simply means that all individuals and organizations whose work or activities have something to do with the Board need to comply with the provisions of the law. And any negation of that could attract the wrath of the law.


Iyan Tama Multi Media Ltd., a production company in Kano has been operating for about 2 decades without any form of registration, either at the state or federal level. A few months back Alhaji Hamisu Iyan Tama, was charged to court by the Kano State Censorship Board, for, among other things, running unregistered production company. Which contravenes the State Censorship Board law. This is very unbecoming of a modern man.


The law establishing the Kano State Censorship Board did not emanate from the sky. It has a strong backing of section 16, sub-section (a) and (b), of the 1999 Amended Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria. The provision of the constitution reads thus:


“G. Exhibition of Cinematograph films.


16. The National Assembly may make laws for the establishment of an authority with power to carry out censorship or cinematograph films and to prohibit or restrict the exhibition of such films; and nothing herein shall:-


(a)          Preclude a House of Assembly from making provision for a similar authority for that state; or

(b)         authorize the exhibition of a cinematograph film in a state without the sanction of the authority established by the law of that state for the censorship of such films.

There are requirements of the Board’s Law in Kano State for establishing a production company. These requirements are briefly given below:-


a-    There should be an office accommodation for any production company, for it to be easily located. Not an invisible location, as it has been the practice in some quarters of the film industry in Kano.

b-   There should be at least a one computer operating system. (I think the Censorship Board is trying to help production companies have a modern touch in their day to day activities).

c-    A presentation of Tax clearance of at least 3 years before a company get registered. (In this aspect I doubt if anybody can fault this provision, unless if he/she is a Tax evader).

d-   Introduction letter from the local government authority, where such company is operating. (Do people have a skeleton in their cupboards for not disclosing their places of businesses to the local authorities?)

e-    Above all, it is mandatory for any potential company to bring to the Board a certificate of incorporation from the Corporate Affairs Commission – a federal body – before the process of registration of any company begins.

To me and to any sane person the above requirements are nothing more than an attempt to put the stakeholders within the purview of the law emanated from constituted authorities. So what is wrong if the Kano State Censorship Board insists that all stakeholders should comply with the provision of the law that establishes the Board? It is like some people get joy and happiness in breaking laws. Such kind of people, in my own little understanding as the U.S., should not be embraced by the States as darlings.    


I discussed thoroughly with other people who have great confidence in the U.S. policy, especially as it affects democracy, respect for the rule of law and respect for other cultures, but we were (and still are) all surprised why is the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, promoting somebody who has no regard for the constituted authorities and the rule of law. Hamisu Iyan Tama sees himself as a complete Dan Birni who cares less about operating under the framework of set standards, as arranged by the law of the land.


Being a stakeholder, Iyan Tama is my co-traveller in the film industry. That prompted me to go and search whether it was true that Iyan Tama did not register with the Federal body that is Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).


Least I forget, Iyan Tama was charged to court with Sani Mu’azu of LENSCOPE MEDIA SERVICES LTD. Though Sani Mu’azu was also charged for not registering with the State Censorship Board, but he registered with CAC. You may ask why Iyan Tama refused with the CAC. You may ask why Iyan Tama refused to follow Mu’azu’s suit? This question I think can best be answered by him.


My interest in the whole show prompted me to go and verify whether Iyan Tama did not register with the CAC and whether Sani Mu’azu registered. I applied for registration to the Corporate Affairs Commission with the names of the 2 companies, i.e. IYAN TAMA MULTI MEDIA LTD and LENSCOPE MEDIA SERVICES LTD. As it is normally done the names would go for “Availability check and Reservation of Name” at the CAC office.


The following information followed my applications:



A Notice of Denial was sent from the CAC. And the following information/message was given:

The CAC regrets to inform you that it was unable to approve any of the names submitted for approval.


Date of Search: 22/5/2008

Serial Number: 1394530


Second Preference:

Third Preference:

Submitted by: Nasiru M. Ahmed

Comments: LENSCOPE, MEDIA SERVICES LTD (R#276909) 11


This shows that Sani Mu’azu’s LENSCOPE is duly registered with the CAC. But then that does not give him a licence to operate in kano without registering with the State Censorship Board.



A letter/notice form from the CAC was sent with the following as a content:


“The CAC is pleased to inform you that one of your requested names has been approved and will be reserved for 60 days.



Serial Number: 1394473

Reserved Until: 25/7/2008

Approved By: Oyindamola Daramola

Submitted By: Ibrahim Adamu



The above information is a clear testimony that A. Hamisu Iyan Tama did not register with the Corporate Commission.




Another critical point of concern for me and those that see U.S. as a model society is the disgusting sponsorship of a film produced by the Iyan Tama Multi Media Production Company, called ‘TSINTSIYA’ “THE BROOM”, by the U.S. Embassy. Yes the title of the film and the theme were correctly chosen for the simple reason that the film is all about the promotion of national unity, among different ethnic groups in the country.


The film has already been released. And you can find it in Kano markets. But the most unfortunate part of it all is, the film was not censored and registered by the Kano State Censorship Board. And this action contravenes the law that establishes the Board. The Board also has every reason to charge Iyan Tama before a court of law. To him, the way I understand him, arrogance is enough a ticket for breaking rules.


I am rest assured that as far as TSINTISYA is concerned; the U.S. Embassy has nothing to hide. But why is the Embassy giving a helping hand to somebody to disrespect the constituted authority? I mean this is a sampled opinion. To me we can still excuse the Embassy as delving into a matter with less concern to good home work.


As part of his defences in the media, Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama Used to say that he was out of production since 2006, and eventually delved into politics. I then ask, who did he report to when he wanted to quit for politics? Are there no requirements or procedures for one to follow when he/she intends to leave the business? A notification of quiting to the relevant authority is enough a cover for one to be protected even if somebody Uses his/her name in the production of unwanted material. Of course it is absolutely his right as a citizen to choose whatever he likes to earn living. But there must be procedures in doing that.


Let us assume that he quits since 2006, so what informs the production and release of TSINTSIYA in 2008? Who did he inform that he is back into business? It could be merrier if he could at least recognize the existence of a constituted authority that has many things to do with film production in the state. Is U.S. Embassy aware of all these hiccups?


When jumping into politics, did he joined a political party just like that without following some procedures? It is his right to join politics, but then are there no rules and regulations governing that action? Why is it that some people are upside down? Their thinking is awkwardly paralyzed and commitedly poisoned. 


I do not like to see U.S. Embassy being meddled. The Embassy is carelessly, according to some shades of opinion, promoting this errand producer both at the local and international arena. He has just been back from the States, where he attended American Film Festival, with his uncensored film TSINTSIYA. This is shameful! Somebody roars.


Of recent Iyan Tama’s last resort as far TSINTSIYA film is concerned is, he was heard to be said that the film falls under the category of exempted ones. Even if the film is an exempted one, then are there no procedures to follow for those films that are exempted? I hope the U.S. Embassy is following these arguments? Fine!


One of the columnist Victor Akande wrote a piece in The Nation Newspaper, on Sunday December 14, 2008, caption “Censors Board New Framewor: A clarion call well honoured”, he captures with all precision, the fundamental work of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and their modus operandi.


I would want to cite this as an example to show that what the Kano State Censorship Board is doing is not and can never be overstepping out of boundary. The same thing is also obtainable at the National level.


The writer puts it and I quote “The Board was essentially formed out of the need of Nigeria to protect its young from unsuitable content, and as a multi-ethnic developing society there is also a strong desire to preserve its ethnic, racial and religious harmony which the power of uncensored films can undermine. The Board is in addition empowered by law not only to classify films produced in Nigeria but also the films imported into the country.”


He further continues that, “The Board’s mandated include; licensing a person to exhibit films and video works; licensing a premises (sic) for the purposes of exhibiting films and video works; censorship and classification of films and video works; regulate and prescribe safety precautions to be observed in licensed premises; regulate and control cinematographic exhibitions; and perform such other functions as are necessary.”


I quote these parts of the piece to show in black and white that what the State Censorship Board is doing is not out of bound even at the national arena.


The film in question TSINTSIYA, if it would be subjected to professional criticism people would be surprised about the many fouls embedded in the content. I am skillfully armed at least to say this. Even in the making of the film, not the content this time around, I spotted something shameful. In one of the special appearances, there was one non-Hausa man who was humiliated so much and at the end of the show he was given a chicken fee of Two Thousand naira (N2000) only. This is a shame!


In actual sense, Hamisu Iyan Tama is tamed by his shallow thinking about what life is all about. He does not feel embarrassed by his own action. That is why he minces word and makes some uncoordinated statements that; the State Censorship Board takes him to court with the aim of tarnishing his political image. My question at this juncture is, what respect does he command in the political landscape in Kano State?




Asabe Murtala

Yakasai Quarters

Kano City