PANAF condemns the directive by govt to arrest entertainers in Northern Nigeria

The Nigerian chapter of the Pan African Network for Artistic Freedom demands that the Kano
state government and the Kano Upper Sharia Court withdraw their order to arrest or restrict ten
entertainers and musicians from expressing themselves through their songs and social media
accounts immediately.
On September 8, lawyers filed a lawsuit seeking the prosecution of ten local entertainers; four men
and six women, accused of dancing and singing to “immoral” music and spreading it online. The
police were ordered by the Islamic court on 13 September to arrest and investigate the accused
since their behaviour could have a negative impact on young people. These celebrities include a
hip-hop artist, an actress, and eight TikTok influencers with sizable fan bases.
PANAF deems the State government’s action as an infringement on the right to free expression in
addition to a violation of democratic values and principles. This incident highlights the recurring
violations, intimidation, arrest and sometimes violence meted on entertainers, particularly in
Northern Nigeria, where religious authorities are used to suppress freedom of expression.
With particular reference to section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, PANAF Nigeria is calling for an end to the harassment of the ten celebrities and other
artists in Northern Nigeria.
It is insensitive for Kano State to continue dictating what the general public should consume; art
does not have to be used to further the interests of religion and the government. If artists aren’t
violating anyone else’s rights, they should be free to create and interpret content however they see
fit. The arts in Northern Nigeria would stagnate and stop evolving if the propensity to make
religious references persists.
The Nigerian PANAF chapter will monitor this situation and, if necessary, offer updates on the
next steps.

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