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September 16, 2022

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

The Nigerian chapter of the Pan African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) demands that the Kano state government and the Kano Upper
Sharia Court withdraw their order to arrest or restrict ten entertainers, including musicians from expressing themselves through their
songs and social media accounts immediately.

On 8 September, 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 has decided to withhold the names of the accused for the time being but will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, provide information on the next steps.

About PANAF

The Pan African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) is a new network-building initiative initiated by Selam. Funded by the Swedish

Arts Council, this initiative seeks to create a Pan-African inclusive voice for organisations connecting African artists and culture producers defending artistic freedom.

It is being developed in collaboration with partners in Nigeria, Gambia, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, with plans to involve several other countries in the future.

Research on the state of artistic freedom in the eight focus countries is currently underway until October, with various lobbying and capacity-building activities to follow.

Conact: panaf@selam.se

About PANAF

The Pan African Network for Artistic Freedom (PANAF) is a new network-building initiative initiated by Selam, a cultural organisation that has worked for over 20 years in cultural development and development with offices in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Sweden. Funded by the Swedish Arts Council, this initiative seeks to create a Pan-African inclusive voice for organisations connecting African artists and culture producers defending artistic freedom.
It is being developed in collaboration with partners in Nigeria, Gambia, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, with plans to involve several other countries in the future.

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