CSOs Seek Protection For Filmmaker Declared Wanted In Kano

A coalition of 18 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called on the Federal government to save Nigerian Filmmaker, Aminu Umar Mukhtar, popularly known as Aminu Nasara, declared wanted by the Kano State Censorship Board.

Nasara was declared wanted for allegedly promoting immorality with his new drama series titled ‘Makaranta’ (school).

The Executive Director of the Censorship Board, Ismail Afakallah, had said the board invited the filmmaker for the immoral content and for his failure to obtain approval before releasing the trailer online.

As a result, the filmmaker was declared wanted.

But Unchained Vibes Africa, leading 18 other groups in a petition to save the filmmaker said: “Declaring an artist wanted for producing a drama series on sex education and advocacy for girls’ rights, is in violation of the right to freedom of expression, which is explicitly guaranteed under Section 39.1 of Nigeria’s constitution.

“It also violates Nigeria’s regional and international obligation to respect, protect and promote freedom of expression including through art. Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.  Article 9 provides that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”

In the petition sent to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, the group said: “Section 35 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution has this provision domesticated. 

“It guarantees that the dignity of all Nigerians must enjoy safeguards against arbitrariness whether official or non-official. It has also been established in Nigeria that a law enforcement agency, including the police, has no right to declare a citizen wanted without a court warrant.

“Compelling an artist to submit his or her content for vetting and decision as to whether or not to remove certain scenes, amounts to prior censorship, contrary to regional and international law. The United Nations (U.N) Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights has specifically stated that prior censorship should be an exceptional measure, taken only to prevent the imminent threat of grave irreparable harm to human life or property.

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“In this case, Aminu Nasara posed absolutely no threat to anyone. He only produced a drama series to educate and advocate for girls’ rights.

“The filmmaker has said that he did not shoot the video in Kano and the message of the drama is not targeted at Hausa people alone.” 

Since the video was not shot in Kano, he is not under any obligation to submit the work to the Kano Censorship Board.

“Besides the fact that the video was not shot in Kano State, laws requiring prior censorship should be abolished.”

The groups include the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), African Defenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network), Culture Advocates Caucus, Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature, Centre for Creative Arts Education (CREATE).

-Guardian

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