Brief report on the state of film industry in Kano State, Nigeria

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Man holding a flag of Nigeria
Man holding a flag of Nigeria

Preamble. Motion picture industry in Northern Nigeria popularly known as Kannywood was founded in 1990 when the first Hausa home video titled “Turmin Danya” was produced.

The industry was brought into being and nurtured to the present level by the practitioners themselves. Today, the industry employs the services of more than fifty thousand people and supplies 35% of Nollywood movies. It generates over N20 million to the Federal Government annually through National Film and Video Censorship Board (NFVCB). In Nigeria it’s been argued that our film industry alone generates over N30 billion worth of economic activities. This implies that Hausa Film industry generates about N9 billion (about 35% of 30 billion) worth of economic activities.

The following are the existing guilds and associations recognized by Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) in every state:

1. MOPPAN State chapter
2. Film makers Association
3. Film Producers Association
4. Guild of Directors
5. Guild of Artistes
6. Guild of Cinematographers
7. Guild of Script writers
8. Guild of Editors
9. Guild of Production designers
10. Distributors/Marketers Association
11. Association of Film Exhibitors
12. Association of Musicians and Lyricists

Aims and objectives

a) To promote and encourage the interest and advancement of its members in all manners affecting them, as professional Motion Picture Practitioners’.

b) To promote and encourage any activity whereby members will be held qualified in their particular field within the Motion Picture industry in Nigeria.

c) To regulate the relationship between its members and the public based on professional ethics and the Associations code of conduct as may be regulated and modified from time to time.

d) To facilitate professional growth in the art, practice and techniques of the Motion Picture industry by holding seminars, conferences, workshops and film festivals, at national and international levels.

e) To collate and tabulate statistics and publish information useful to its members, and to issue suitable literature and publications, including an official journal to assist in attaining the objectives of the Association.

f) To advance by any legal means deemed fit the standard of technical work in the Motion Picture industry, thereby improving the knowledge, skills and experience of the Associations members generally or individually.

g) To, on behalf of it’s members, liaise with the Nigerian film cooperation for the purpose of patronizing and putting in to effect, usage the technical infrastructure already available in Nigeria i.e. colour film processing laboratory, sound dubbing studio, production and editing facilities and also negotiate rates and credits for the usage of those technical infrastructure in favour of its members in order to boost Motion Picture production In Nigeria.

h) To acknowledge and also reward professional merits and achievements made by Motion Picture Practitioners in Nigeria who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields, and related creative arts.

i) To work towards the promotion of, distribution, exhibition and utilization of Motion Picture throughout Nigeria, African continent and the world at large.

j) To offer its services in resolving any differences that may arise between its members and to defend their various interest as part of the promotion of Motion Picture production.

k) To promote the welfare of the members of the Association in such a manner, as shall be deemed conductive and expedient, but subject to the overall interest of the general public.

l) To cooperate and associate with, or be a member of or to affiliate the Association to any organization nationally or internationally having similar objectives, or whose interest in anyway connected with the aims and objectives of the Association.

m) To undertake all other things as may be considered incidental to or conductive to the attainment of all or any of the objectives of the Association.

Report on cell-phone pornographic clip involving a popular Hausa film actress

Background. Six months ago, there had been several media reports both locally and internationally regarding the above subject matter. Therefore, it had become extremely necessary for MOTION PICTURE PRACTIONERS ASSOCIASTION OF NIGERIA (MOPPAN) to provide a clarification on the subject matter. Following the massive dissemination of this immoral content which was started by some disgruntled elements within the Hausa film industry, MOPPAN instituted investigation to find out the truth of the matter. The Association was interested in the followings:

1. Whether the said incident really occurred.

2. Who are the people involved and their level of involvement?

3. To establish the extent of the spread of the issue within and outside the industry.

Some of the executive members of the Association were assigned to investigate these issues and report to the Association.

Findings. After careful investigation the Association was able to establish the following facts;

1. The said incident really occurred some time in early 2006 in Lagos involving a (Yet to be) Hausa film star.

2. The artist involved, Maryam Usman was actually in Lagos on a private trip to Lagos, to meet a male friend, who turned out to be the one who used his cell-phone to record their private sexual activity.

3. That though this incident occurred some 21 months earlier, it did not become a public content until late July 2007 when Maryam Usman acted and become a notable star in a film titled ‘Hiyana’ a year ago, through one of the artist’s female friends within the industry, substantially out of envy.

The issues. The Association established that this content was massively distributed on cell-phones, CDS, Video cassette, Internet, and Computer flash disk throughout Kano state and possibly beyond. The extent of the spread of this content generated serious controversy within the Kano community especially taken cognizance of the state’s Shari`a policy and the apparent popularity of the film star involved. Prior to this, a Lagos based magazine early this year had published this information. This resulted in the misconception that;

A. A pornographic film was made.

B. Filmmaking is immoral

C. All artistes engage in immoral acts and as such are negative role models on the society.

D. Appeals for Government to ban filmmaking.

E. Calls for the head of Maryam and others suspected of engaging in acts of immorality.

F. Active media discourse on the issues above especially in Kano.

Decision / Resolution. As a result of these developments, especially the way and manner some members of the general public started expressing their concern and disapproval over the clip, stake holders from the film industry convened an emergency meeting of all the Guilds and Associations under MOPPAN. The meeting took stock on activities within the industry and the following decisions were taken in the interest of filmmaking as a reputable profession.

1. The Actress involved, Maryam Usman, was suspended for a period of five years for causing disrepute to the profession.

2. 17 other members identified by an investigative panel with different unethical conducts (Not related with Sex) capable of bringing the film profession to disrepute were also suspended for different periods of time.

3. The Kano State Government, through the Kano Censorship Board endorsed the ban on the affected practitioners and call on all production companies/studios to register or revalidate their registration status with the Board immediately.

4. The National office of MOPPAN here endorsed the resolutions of the Kano Censorship Board in tandem with other Guilds and Associations in the state.

5. The National office also resolved that film production practice be suspended for a period of three months during which codes of practice for different guilds shall be distributed and explained to members.

6. MOPPAN will also update its membership register during this period.

Above is for your information, support and assistance please. Be assured of our total commitment to the development of filmmaking in Nigeria and beyond while we remain truly yours.

Banning of all location activities and imposing of new guidelines

The state censorship board broadcasted and distributed a press release in which film activities were further banned for the period of six months and new guidelines for the film practitioners were as circulated without our consent. The Board also urged all the film makers in the state to go and register with them which is the sole responsibility of the guilds and associations. We as well challenged the banning and thought for clarification of the new guidelines which the Board depended in line with the Shari’a system. We lay our complains to the bodies concerned but all in vain. Below is the translated version of the guidelines under which we must practice when the ban is lifted

Guidelines for film censorship in Kano State films must comply with the following guidelines to conform to Islamic Shari’a

1. Singing and Dancing is prohibited.

2. Actresses are prohibited from appearing in trousers, skirts or short tops.

3. Dressing in see-through or tight costumes that expose body features is prohibited.

4. Male Actors are prohibited from appearing in tight fitted clothes that expose their features or haircuts that do not fit with our culture.

5. Actresses are prohibited from combing or exposing their hair.

6. Indecent utterances and seductive actions or immoral dialogue are prohibited.

7. Ridiculing of any religion, tribe or a section of the community is prohibited.

8. It is prohibited to use children in films that are prohibited.

9. Re-inserting expunged scenes from an already censored film, and taking such film into the market is a major crime.

10. Fetish activities and the wrong use of weapons are prohibited.

11. Producers are prohibited from releasing posters and trailers without the permission of the board.

12. Films must have a clear meaning (message) with appropriate names.

13. No films can be produced in Kano, or brought in for sales or exhibition without the permission of the board.

14. All Actors or Actresses and other filmmakers are prohibited from doing film business without obtaining license from the board.

15. Sleeping overnight at film locations with males and females are prohibited.

16. No films shall be made without censorship of its script.

There is a mobile court attached to the board to arrest, harass, detain and prosecute members of the motion picture practitioners’ association of Nigeria including all its 12 affiliate guilds and associations in kano. The Board is also making a serious media campaign misleading the public by making inflammatory utterances portraying filmmakers as anti-Islamic dissident and declaring that hausa filmmakers are pornographic filmmakers. The association organized end of year stakeholders’ forum the communiqué of which is below:


The Kano Film Industry Stakeholders Forum was held on Sunday 30th December 2007 at Mambayya House. Major stakeholders were invited to the meeting. They include all the professional guilds and associations operating in the industry, MOPPAN, national head quarters, the State Censorship Board, The Nigerian Film Corporation, National Film and Video Censors board, the Nigerian police, Office of the Advisor on NGOs, State Ministry of Justice, the State Ministry of Information, Nigerian Copyright Commission, National and international media organizations and some Local and international Human rights organizations. The objective of the meeting is to review the issues and events which affected the industry over the last twelve months with a view to moving the industry forward.

Four papers were presented at the forum covering several areas of great significance to the operations of the industry. Based on the presentations, and after careful deliberations on the issues rose, the meeting took the following resolutions:

1. the Forum agrees to continue respecting and abiding by all the laws and regulations (both state and national) relating to the operations of the industry and encourage practitioners to demonstrate their commitment to this pledge.

2. that there is the need to Islamize film making such that its content conforms with the Islamic heritage and need to our good cultural values

3. that film can be an effective medium for shari’ah advocacy programs,

4. that there is a need to hold an interactive forum between shari’ah bodies and the Industry stakeholders with a view to allowing the practitioners benefit from the abundant resources available in such organizations

5. that relevant governmental organizations should be more concern with educating the public concerning the type of film content they should watch.

6. that the industry was not accorded it’s right status due to the Government failure to hold audience with them as was the case with other organizations of lesser importance to the state economy and social development,

7. that never was a pornographic film produced in this Film Industry,

8. that the forum demand the state government to explain to the stakeholders reason behind the suspension of film activities for a period of six months in the state,

9. that the forum decried the state censorship board’s deceptive attitude, prior to this day the Executive Secretary pledged to stop his insinuating media campaigns against the industry but only to dishonor his pledge. This is quite embarrassing to the government he represents.

10. That the suspension order resulted to about 8.5bn Naira loss in the industry. If Government could pay compensation to the bird flue victim which is a natural disaster, we equally demand compensation from the state government to the industry as to alleviate the suffering caused by Government’s suspension order.

11. The forum also calls for government’s consideration to include stakeholders in any policy formulation in all issues of concern. The previous action where Government constitutes a task force committee on the film industry without our representation was bitterly decried.

12. The forum also notes the need for the state government to come up with means of empowering the industry in conformity with SEEDS policy.

13. That the forum demands that Government should stop the draconian tribunal; instead a disciplinary committee by the professional bodies should be formed, lest we forget that this is a democratic dispensation.

14. The forum calls the state censorship Board to reconsider their position of censoring films already produced prior to the new regulation.

Conclusion. We would like the world to know that our fundamental human right is seriously tempered with as our members (especially marketers and producers) are being arrested, harassed, detained and prosecuted.
Most of the practicing artistes, producers, directors etc have fled Kano to other states to exercise their right of earning a living. The local media is restricted from broadcasting or writing our own version of the case. In fact, our lives are in danger as any attempt by us to challenge the Government is termed un-Islamic which exposes us to stigma and even attack from the public.

Thank you very much

Ahmad M. Sarari (National Vice President MOPPAN)

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