Nazir Ahmed, otherwise known by his stage name Sarkin Waka was arrested by the Kano State Police command on the order of the Kano State censors board. Despite Ahmed’s status in Kano state (his music is widely liked and he also a prominent career in the Kano film industry), he was singled out as a dissident for criticizing the recently reelected Kano state governor Abdullahi Ganduje and used as an example.
Reports suggest that Sarkin Waka’s arrest was directive from the governor himself, filtered through the Kano Courts and Police command. This act, is one of many violations of the national constitution that has happened across the country. Critics of Kaduna state government like the journalist Dadiyata has allegedly been arrested by the DSS and yet to be formally charged, as well as Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River state also arrested a journalist accusing him of dissent. Freedom of speech protects the rights of private citizens to criticize actions they consider detrimental to the welfare of citizens. Most prominent and worrying is the continued detention of former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore who was accused of dissent and arrested by the DSS even though his campaign was transparent.
The fact that governors are refusing to listen to the concerns of citizens and instead resort to suppression of public dissent with state forces is worrying on many levels. It is proof that we are never too far from a dictatorship and dictatorial abuse of power in Nigeria. There is however some good news; Sarkin Waka was released on N500,000 bail and will have to go to court to defend his right to public dissent. His albums Gidan Saurata and Sai Hakuri, have been registered as the medium through which criticisms of the governor were made.
We will watch and see how justice is served, for Sarkin Waka and other Nigerians imprisoned illegally.