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latest news > news in brief > Nigeria: Award-Winning Film Lands Director in Jail

Inter Press Service (IPS)

Nigeria: Award-Winning Film Lands Director in Jail

24 February 2009

The first time I visited award-winning Northern Nigerian filmmaker Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama in prison, a week after his arrest, the former Kano State gubernatorial candidate seemed to be in high spirits.

Dressed immaculately in a crisp dogon riga, the only physical sign that he was in prison was his rubber slippers. He joked with the friendly prison guards, greeted each visitor by name, and narrated how in December 2008, a mobile court justice had sentenced him to three months in prison and a fine equivalent to $2,500 for allegedly failing to register his company, Iyan-Tama Multi Media, with the Kano State Censorship Board.

He was also sentenced to a further year in prison, with option of fine, for supposedly selling his film Tsintsiya without having it censored by state authorities.

"The judge held up Tsintsiya and asked if this was my film." Iyan-Tama told us. "I said, ’Yes, but it’s not for sale in Kano.’ The judge said I should answer, ’yes or no, yes or no.’"

The melodramatic behaviour of Justice Mukhtar Ahmed, who insisted on passing judgment on the politically-active filmmaker even after a subpoenaed police witness did not show up in court, was the climax of a case that has unfolded like a plot out of a "Kannywood" film. Read more

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