Freedom of Expression

Drop the Charges Against Sadiq Zazzabi

Sadiq Zazzabi is a Nigerian Hausa-language musician who was arraigned on March 1, 2017 by the Kano State Censorship Board. Sadiq released his new song, “Maza bayan ka” (“All Men Behind You”), in late February 2017 while it was still pending approval from the board. He was brought to court on charges of both distributing the song without approval and indecency, because the song’s music video features “seductive dance(s) by women.”

Sadiq is well known in the northern Nigerian state of Kano, which is home to many Hausa speakers but also has been subject to strict censorship based on Islamic tradition since 2002. His music often tackles themes of love, social issues, and politics, and “Maza bayan ka” is no exception.

Sadiq maintains that his arrest in March was a direct result of the song’s support for former Kano state governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, a bitter political rival of incumbent Umar Ganduje. “Every singer has his hero, and my hero is Kwankwaso,” Sadiq said. “I sang an album for him which I sent to the Kano State Censors Board [sic] on the 6 of January, 2017. The censors’ board censored my song and asked that I will need to remove some part of the music. They never sent the part they wanted out till today [February 28].”

On March 6, Sadiq was released from prison on bail after a crowd of supporters packed his courtroom and forced the judge to postpone his trial. The proceedings were rescheduled for March 27, but it remains unclear whether or not a verdict has been reached.


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