Monday, January 26, 2009

Iyan-Tama's case "not listed."

Today I arrived for Iyan-Tama's rescheduled appeal (readers will remember that it had been scheduled for Thursday but the chief justice suddenly had to travel--see two posts back) at 9:51am. The appeal was scheduled for 9:30am, so I was afraid I was late. I waited until 10:43am in the back of the court room with a few other journalists (lawyers at the front), for the chief justice to arrive.

He said that the case was "not listed."

This is the third appeal case I've been to that has been delayed. The first one was dismissed because the court was not satisfied with the way the appeal was prepared. The second one was postponed because the chief justice travelled, and now this third one was "not listed." I do not have a lot of experience in courts of law, but it makes me wonder if all cases have this problem or if it is just Iyan-Tama's....

Friday, January 23, 2009

2:15am raid on Iyan-Tama's family

UPDATE 27 January 2008
See the details of the attack on Iyan-Tama's family at Leadership and BBC.

Sitting in an internet cafe, enjoying the non-stop Hausa musical selection coming from the administrator’s computer (including such banned hits as Maryam A. Baba’s “Rabo Rabo” and Nazifi Asenik’s “Dawo Dawo”) and listening to people snigger about them, I was writing my advisor an email, when I recieved the following text:

"Iyantama’s house was stormed by unknown people who claimed to be sent by some people to terrorise his family. The incidence took place on thursday around 2:15am. The terrorists did not take anything out of the house.

"The hearing of the second appeal of Iyantama’s case is scheduled to take place on monday 26/1/09 at court one Audu Bako secretariat kano by 9:30am.”

(from a member of the MOPPAN Exco. [not sure if i should put the name])
Photo credit: Iyan-Tama with his family. Courtesy of freeiyantama's flickr photostream

Thursday, January 22, 2009

High Court Justice Postpones Iyan-Tama's appeal

Just a quick post for "breaking news." I went at 9:30 am to High Court 1 at Audu Bako secretariate for Iyan-Tama's appeal case. I arrive and sit with Ahmad Alkanaway of the Centre for Hausa Cultural Studies, Sani Maikatanga of Fim Magazine, other reporters from Trust, Leadership, BBC, and elsewhere. After some time, we hear that apparently the Chief Justice, a politically appointed judge who was to hear the case and apparently set the time, travelled and the case will be postponed until tomorrow or Monday.

I catch a ride with National President of MOPPAN, Sani Mu'azu and Ahmad Alkanawy, and on the way to BUK New Site, we branch by the Goron Dutse Prison to see Iyan-Tama again. He joked with the friendly "keeper" and other guards and said (in Hausa--my translation from my memory of what he said) that he was fine. He didn't have a problem in the prison; he just wanted to get out and continue with his life. He also explained that if someone was trying to find the registration for his company "Iyan-Tama Multimedia" and neglected to put in the hyphen, it would not show up in the search. That would explain the "mysterious" (see discussion on the Finafinan Hausa listserve from people who had never heard of her in the film industry or in related publications) Asabe Muktar's claim in the Daily Trust of 8 January that "Hamisu Iyan Tama did not register with the Corporate Affairs Commission" because she supposedly,

" applied for registration to the Corporate Affairs Commission with the names of the two 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: [.... Lenscope Media was found to be registered, while]

2. IYAN TAMA MULTI MEDIA LTD, a letter/notice form from the CAC was sent with the following as content: "The CAC is pleased to inform you that one of your requested names has been approved and will be reserved for 60 days. Approved Name: IYAN TAMA MULTI MEDIA LTD. Serial Number: 1394473 Reserved Until: 25/7/2008. Approved By: Oyindamola Daramola. Submitted By: Ibrahim Adamu. "So Hamisu Iyan Tama did not register with the Corporate Affairs Commission."

Of course, since she did not put "Iyan-Tama" with a hyphen the search would not have come up with "Iyan-Tama Multimedia." It struck me as quite funny that she would "trust" a beaurocratic search over a hard copy of a reciept from CAC that Iyan Tama presented before the court. I had also been surprised to see it in the Trust, because I had seen a slightly different version in the Daily Triumph, a state government-owned publication, which is boringly predictable in their consistent condemnation of the film industry. (See also this recent article by Muhammad Mahmud in The Daily Triumph, a very adamnant supporter of the mysterious "Asabe" on the Finafinan Hausa listserve.)

Following our visit, I also did a brief interview with Sani Mu'azu, excerpts of which I will try to post here later.

Now to post this before the internet cuts out....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

At the Goron Dutse Prison--Visiting Iyan-Tama

So, in the latest Iyan-Tama news: yesterday, the high court struck out the appeal to bail Iyan-Tama because they were dissatisfied with the way it was prepared... I went to the case, but unfortunately went to the wrong location first and arrived 30 minutes late, just in time for the mass exodus of those there for the Iyan-Tama case from the court.

And before I launch into my meditation on my visit to Iyan-Tama in prison last week, here are some links from yesterday and today's articles. Apparently a film on the recent Jos crisis I had not yet heard about has already been banned by the Censorship Board, and in the meantime more download and viewing centre businessmen have been arrested. Read about it in Leadership and Triumph. There is also an article featuring my good friend Nazir Hausawa and other hip hop artists by AFP at

Last Friday, I and a carload of other film industry folk went to visit Iyan-Tama in the Goron Dutse Prison. I am going to necessarily make the description a bit vague, although there are some details that I would LOVE to put in. Maybe 50 years down the road in my memoirs....

After the necessary preliminaries, we go through a heavy iron door that clanks shut behind us. In front of us is a long dusty field/courtyard with long narrow buildings. It looks like a school, only there are only a few people sitting outside. The long dusty courtyards look deserted. We enter a building to the left and the men behind the desks indicate for us to sit.

Almost immediately Iyan Tama comes in. He is a tall regal prescence even in prison, exuding grace and good spirits. The only sign that he is in prison are the rubber slippers he is wearing. He greets me “Ah, is this Talatu?” and then the others, joking with them, seemingly happy to see us. After the jokes and greetings, he talks about the case, telling us: "I had the receipt for 2008, but I go to court and they say 'Do you have a certificate like this one of 2005, like this one, this one?' They demanded yes or no. I tried to explain that I had registration from CACE, that I had a receipt of payment for the certificate, not a certificate exactly like that of 2005 because they had not yet begun issuing the certicates by the time I was arrested in May 2008." They held up Tsintsiya and asked if this was my film. I said, “Yes, but it's not for sell in Kano.” Although they would not allow him to defend himself, he assured us that the reciepts are on for anyone who cares to see them.

Iyan Tama has always been kind to me when we have met, but I have never interacted very extensively with him. Although I have always thought he had a commanding presence , this time round I was particularly struck by his height, his charm, the aura of power and grace about him--that he greeted us each by name and asked us about details of our work. Although he entered the room as a prisoner, it was as if we were in his waiting room and he came out of his office to greet us. When he plays the governor of Kano in his film Tsintsiya, he is very believable. As he was actually a gubanatorial candidate in Kano state in 2007, I often wonder if that was one of the unspoken reasons that the censorship board reacted so strongly to an otherwise (to me)unoffensive drama that encourages peace and goodwill between city-dwellers of different ethnicities and religious persuasions. Seeing him there in prison, I was struck by his graciousness, his good spirits, his conviction that justice will, in the end, be done.

I hope it is.
This is back when Iyan-Tama was first arrested and released on bail.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Elechi Amadi kidnapped in Niger Delta

I have just found out via the Jos-ANA listserve that Nigerian novelist, playwright, and poet Elechi Amadi, probably most known for his novel The Concubine and prison diary Sunset in Biafra, was kidnapped by militants in the Niger Delta. The only article I have been able to find about it so far is on Bloomberg News

For more information about Elechi Amadi, see his website. (Note: the website does not yet have mention of the kidnapping).

Update 8:52pm: And after my dinner break, I came back to find the news also on BBC.

And a very short piece on Afrique en ligne in English and French. Apparently Amadi is also the chairman of the Rivers State scholarship board.
Update 10:36pm: A friend just im-ed me and let me know that according to, he has been released. It has not yet shown up on google news alerts; but here is a link to the discussion post in which one degini2 says that he has been "returned to his home."
Image Credit: Sun News Online

Friday, January 02, 2009

Hausa Filmmaker and former candidate for Governor in Kano State Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama Sentenced to 15 months in Prison at Mobile Court

I'm at a desperately slow internet cafe, so these links should serve as the text of this post. Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama, award winning filmmaker and former gubanatorial candidate in Kano state, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison by a mobile court, for supposedly not registering with the Kano State Censorship Board.

See the details on Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz's blog article (also published on 1 Jan 2008 in Leadership), on the new blogspot Free Iyan Tama, and Kano State owned Triumph Newspaper.

So anyone reading this from Amnesty International? Human Rights Watch? Any other human rights organization or NGO? This is the time to step up....

Image credit from Free Iyan Tama's Flikr Photostream: Iyan Tama in 2007 at the Zuma Film Festival in Abuja, where he won an award for Best Social Issue film. The day after he returned to Kano, and was arrested for the first time for supposedly not registering with the Kano State Censorship Board, although he had a receipt for payment of registration.
Update: And for the best summary of the Iyan Tama case that I've seen so far, see Ibrahim Sheme's blog (an open letter to Governor Shekarau of Kano State) published in Leadership.