Iyan Tama, Us And Kano Censorship Board


Asabe Murtala



I was highly disappointed and principally embarrassed by the unskillfully uncoordinated arguments raised by one Aminu Sa’ad Beli, in his rejoinder of my earlier piece on the above subject matter. The original title of the piece was “AN OPEN LETTER TO THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN NIGERIA”, which was edited to carry the above title. And this is  in line with the discretion an editor has.


It could be most proper to accurately study the author, Beli, before I take him on the issues he raised. Before that again let my readers understand that the fundamental philosophy behind the existence of the Censorship Law, both at the state and national levels, is to sanitize the film industry, literary works and cinematographic dealings from moral bankruptcy, corrupt behaviours and poisoned cultures. And that could definitely be achieved by punishing defaulters and rewarding compliants, may be through capacity building trainings and other ways. The emergence of Hiyanagate was what brought, to the limelight, the apt and (over) zealous understanding of the principal role of the Kano State Censorship Board in cleansing the society from corrupt and bankrupt attitude and perception of life as a whole.


Beli hails from former Karaye Local Government. He was a councilor during the military era, in the former Karaye before Rogo was carved out from Karaye. His father was a disciple of Malam Aminu Kano, who gave him (Beli) the name Aminu. Hence the name Aminu Sa’ad Beli. He was in the past, a chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kano State Branch, during the administration of Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya.


Let me pose my general questions to Aminu Sa’ad Beli. And responses to the issues he raised will subsequently follow.


Aminu Beli was appointed by Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, in his first tenure in office, a Kano liason officer in Lagos. Is this the way to pay back? Could he remember what circumstances led to his exit from that place? The good people of Kano State, including those from the opposition parties (People Democratic Party, PDP inclusive) hail with honesty and all sincerity of purpose, the good work Kano Censorship Board is doing. So what stake does he hold from the opposition angle for him to promote Iyan Tama’s immoral exhibitions?


The most classical political opponent of the Late Malam Aminu Kano, in Kano State is the former governor of the old Kano State, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi. Aminu Sa’ad Beli is Rimi’s press secretary presently. So is this the way to pay back to Malam Aminu Kano?


What role did Beli play in Lagos when the Kano State government wanted to re-shape the Liaison office and when the lodging part was leased out to the Royal Tropican Hotel? Beli should also tell us what informed his connivance with the press to misguide the public that the government wanted to sell the Kano house in Lagos state? There were a lot of media attacks then. But with the quick and professional intervention of the governor’s Press Director, Sule Ya’u Sule, the propaganda was washed away professionally.


I am privy to the fact that Alhaji Abbas Hassan, who is the Special Adviser to the governor of Kano State, on liaison offices, was instrumental for the appointment of Aminu Beli, as a liaison officer in Lagos. Beli was picked from Radio Kano then. My question at this juncture is, what led his parting ways with the Special Adviser? I challenge him to come out and respond boldly over the above issues I raised.


I am happy to see that Beli appreciates the fact that Iyan Tama is an offender. This is evident in the 3rd paragraph of his piece. Where he says, and I quote, “Indeed Alhaji Hamisu Iyan Tama is….. an offender and perhaps punishable ……” And Beli should understand that, it is the kind of their write-ups that makes he public unruly. Not a decent government agency like the Kano State Censorship Board. Absolutely not them!


In the 6th paragraph of his piece, Beli was trying to justify that Iyan Tama’s incarceration was politically motivated. He even went to the extent to call the attention of Iyan Tama to believe that the issue is even more than that. My question therefore, is this, is there anything to show to the public beyond any reasonable doubt that, the judgement was informed by political machinations? Either in the process of investigation or during the trial. I think the writer’s pen, ink and thinking are beclouded by some misconceptions, stark ignorance of the issues at stake and always crudely designed personal interest. My arguments are not sentimental neither my observations.


Paragraph number 7 of Beli’s piece is one of the areas that shocked me to my knees. Let me quote the part precisely. He says “But then whatever is the undercurrent, my candid opinion is that, the attitude of the Rabo managed censorship board is not only contradictory but unnecessary.” For God sake how can a sane person come out and boldly say a board that looks after people’s moral practice is not necessary in the society? So do you want us to always be wallowing in moral bankruptcy?


The author puts it that “….. the moral undertone of the board’s crusade is outrageously selective and awkward”. I challenge him to tell our readers what he means by ‘selective crusade’. Selective as how? It simply means Beli is ignorant of the many convictions of cases handled by the Board. Please go and make an enquiry so that you can come up with an informed position. But the position you have taken is more of a lay man’s missteply and inconclusive analysis.


His mentioning of “the installation of foreign satellite channels at the government house, offices and almost every residence of government functionaries, showing all kinds of movie including pornographic and latest musicals” is still a cloudy and impressively hazy observation that needs some clarifications. My understanding of this man shows me that he is starkly ignorant of the provisions of the law that establishes the Kano State Censorship Board. For your information the law that establishes the Board does not give the office such power of tailing people to their private life. The law deals with publicly consumed materials. So it is not part of the powers given to the Board to go into houses in search of satellite dishes, talkless of censoring the channels to be viewed by the owners.


As Asabe Murtala, may I please request Beli to be an individual censor person, by way of telling us, objectively, the specific locations at the government house that view pornographic films. And to also tell us the channels he (Beli) tunes at home. Let Beli help Kano people with this effort courageously.


Another point that exposes the jealousy and stark ignorance of the author as regards the law that establishes the board is where the author states explicitly clear that the board should counsel and play the role of a guardian, not to play the role of a watchdog. To him, the way I understand his argument, playing the role of a watchdog is an offence. Mark you even at the national level, the Censorship Board is more of a watchdog than any other thing you can think of. Do you mean to say that the board should only be playing a carrot-carrot-formula? For it to be effective the best option for it is carrot –and-stick-formula.


The State Censorship Board apart from being a lawful watchdog, it also counsels and guides other stakeholders. By way of inviting them for some round table discussions and by organizing other activities that have to do with film making, book authorship and songs.


It is so surprising for the author to say “….. the outlet has been blocked, what else is provided for those in the industry? Nothing!”. This is amazing. And it does not sound musical to ears. Even if you believe the industry is tampered, you also need to understand that it is tampered for the better. Any sane person knows that what the board is doing is nothing more than cleansing off the industry from corrupt behaviours and moral bankruptcy. This is clearly depicted in the activities of the board. I ask Beli to tell us his candid opinion and position in the following scenario. Which of the two options can he opt for? A bunch of morally corrupt individuals that hide under the guise of film making. Or some dare-devils that left the industry because they cannot adjust themselves to be morally-inclined, but at the same time they leave behind people of sound character to remain in the industry?


I challenge your scholarship capability on the area where you are trying to dissociate the cases of rampant divorce in the state from the immoral films that were raining before the quick intervention of Malam Abubakar Rabo led censorship Board. It is no longer a hidden fact that, there were many married women that left their husbands in search of positions in the Kano film industry. Such cases were reported times without number in Magazines that are published by the film makers themselves. There were a lot of radio interviews granted by some of the actresses. And in those interviews they were bold enough to mention to the world that there they were wrongly convinced to run away from their husbands so that they can be fixed in some selected films. Can’t you remember some of the interview in our radio stations in the state, immediately after Maryam Hiyana saga? One of the actresses was courageous enough to mention the name of the devil that misled her to quit her husband. And that devil is also a very popular actor in the industry. So what can Beli tell me about this? Your argument is very deficient!


Agreed that “the main thrust of government policies and programs is “Welfare and security”. But then I sincerely advice Beli to go and check the assessment of the 36 states of the federation in terms of security and see where Kano falls. And of course it was that same welfare that moved the state government bought you flashy cars while you were in Lagos as the state liaison officer there. So is it a new thing to see public officers in welfare?


Beli says in the piece, and I quote, “In other words, neither Rabo, his board, or any state government functionary, Asabe and probably myself as members of the elite, is on any moral ground to arrest, prosecute, punish or even  criticize any film maker in Kano”. Your generalization Beli shows Kano as a whole, and its people are morally bankrupt! This is a great shame!


What moral courage do you have to say that, “Your blackmail of U.S. or denting image of Alhaji Hamisu Iyan Tama would not yield nothing”. I ask the moral courage because what I said to the embassy is not near blackmail at all. And the way you put the statement is favourable to me and like-minds. Because you said my actions “.. would not yield nothing”. Which means it would yield something! Thank you!

For history not to be misrepresented you need to be corrected as regards the call for the Shari’ah in the state. The first and foremost is the fact that, Shua’ibu Aliyu was not the originator of the struggle. He was made to be the  first leader of the movement after series of meetings with the originators, who formed their idea from what Malam Rabi’u Abdulqadir, of Yakasai quarters had conceived, analyzed and shared. That was immediately after Zamfara state designed to make a public launching of Shari’ah implementation in the state. Secondly Beli was never a Public Relations Officer of the said group. Unless if he was there invisibly or as spy. And if you insist that you were one of the Public Relations Officers of the movement then what was the original name profiled and adopted?


Of course Shekarau was not part of the frameworkers. And you belittle the chairman of the Council of Ulama, Sheikh Ibrahim Umar Kabo, whom you said had hijacked the movement. You should have asked what was the arrangement at Aliyu Bin Abi Talib religious complex please. Apart from being the chairman of the Council of Ulama, Sheikh Kabo was also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of that group of Shari’ah agitators.

Because of your shallow understanding of issues coupled with your bias mind, you pose that, among all the active members of the Independent Shari’ah Committee at that time, it is only Barrister Aliyu Umar who is in this government now. And according to you the rest are washed away. This is serious! Let me give you a few examples of those that are in that group and are still visible in Malam Ibrahim Shekarau’s government. The then chairman of the Board of Trustees of that movement, Sheikh Ibrahim Umar Kabo, is now an active member of the Shoorah Council, in the state, Malam Umar Sani Fagge, the then second Chairman, is now a Commissioner I in the State Shari’ah Commission, Sheikh Yahaya Tanko, the then Deputy Chairman is now the Director General of the Shari’ah Commission, Malam Ibrahim Shehu Maihula, who was a member then, is now a Commissioner in Zakkat Commission, the then conceiver of the whole idea Malam Rabi’u Abdulqadir Yakasai, is now a member of the Pilgrims Welfare Board, and a host of other people. I can go on and on. With these examples my readers can and will understand that Beli is nothing but a liar, sensational journalist, biased observer and a myopic passer-by.


In conclusion therefore the good people of Kano State get to understand that the filmmakers in the state are being misguided by both inside and outside forces. In his effort and zeal to mislead our society Aminu Sa’ad Beli, now joins another forum called Lawyers Without Border, so that he can mislead them and give them a wrong impression about how system works in this part of the country. I guess that Beli would one day come back to his normal senses and realize that what he is doing cannot take him anywhere.