The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) last week resolved to sue Folarin Falana (Falz the Bahd Guy), a Nigerian artist, who produced the video song titled ‘This is Nigeria’ in which a Fulani man was seen beheading somebody. The video also featured hijab-wearing female choreographers dancing the ‘shaku-shaku’ (a dance associated with drug). A seven-day ultimatum was given for the withdrawal of the video and an apology failing which a legal tussle would be launched.
Our office has since been inundated with solidarity visits, while our telephone lines have been flooded with a deluge of calls from members, friends, well-wishers, journalists and other concerned Nigerians, majority of whom are of the Islamic faith.
In view of the intervention of these well-meaning Nigerians, counseling from several quarters and commitments given by us to those who interfaced with us on this matter, an emergency meeting of MURIC’s Think-Tank was convened on Sunday, June 10, 2018 to review the situation.
In deference to pleas made by well-meaning Nigerians, in order to keep faith with our avowed motto (Dialogue, Not Violence) and to further confirm that MURIC is a listening, mature and responsible organization committed to promoting peace in Nigeria, the Think-Tank resolved to drag the artist to government agencies saddled with the responsibility of censoring films and videos. It is not a U-turn but a sudden change in tactics.
This will have a more enduring impact not only on Falz but the entire entertainment industry. It will also make the agencies sit up to their responsibilities and inject a huge dose of discipline in the music and film industries in general.
MURIC expresses deep appreciation to its members nation-wide, particularly Muslim lawyers who volunteered to take up the case gratis, leaders of Islamic organizations across the country who offered their solidarity as well as senior civil servants who shared their rich experiences with us.
Although he stopped short of apologizing, the artist has tried to clear himself in published interviews made available to us. According to him, he did not intend to ridicule Muslims. He said his intention was to call attention to the plight of the Chibok girls although we think he has done that the wrong way.
A scene in the video in which the ‘Chibok girls’ are in pensive mood would have been more representative of the reality on ground because kidnapped girls cannot be dancing like people under the influence of drug. They are in captivity and so they have no cause under the sun for jubilating.
Again, the Fulanis (Muslims) were painted as killers while Benue militias (Christians) who rustle Fulani cattles and slaughter their wives and children were not featured. This is grossly unfair. Falz should find a way of balancing his video. The kidnappers of the South East (also Christians) were spared while the oil saboteurs of the Niger Delta (Christians too) were ignored. Falz video is loaded with Islamophobia. That video should be titled ‘This is not Nigeria’. It is Islam-bashing. Nigeria’s video regulatory agency should therefore ban the video or ask the artist to edit it properly.
With this latest development and even before the seven-day ultimatum expires, MURIC is no longer contemplating court action against Falz, neither are we demanding any apology from him or his management. The likely pecuniary gain in the event of a court validation of our claims does not interest us. We are no longer looking at Falz but at a larger picture.
The courts will only be interested in legalities, judiciability and technicalities but the video board will look beyond all that. Is it professional? Is it balanced? Is it truly representative of our country? Is it morally justifiable? These are what will interest the board and they are in tandem with our thinking. We appreciate artists and our aim is not to punish Falz. He is not a lazy Nigerian youth.
The matter will now go to those government agencies who are supposed to do their jobs in the first place. Instead of creating media tension and granting cheap popularity, this matter will now be handled by professionals who know what to do.
Our emphasis is going to be mainly on the portrayal of Fulanis as killers in the video with the concomitant ugly perception it is likely to create among Nigerians as well as its bandwagon effect on the image of Muslims in general. This is one area Falz has not been able to explain away, yet he refused to apologise. That aspect of the video would have been edited had the censorship agencies done what was expected of them or if Falz had followed due process.
In the interest of peace, law and order, we are calling on the National Film And Video Censors Board (NFVCB) to take up the matter from this moment. Although MURIC will still do a followup with an official petition, we expect the board to have begun its independent investigations on the matter particularly with the furore generated by the issue.
In a nutshell, we insist that Falz video “This is Nigeria” is offensive and provocative. It portrays Fulanis (and Nigerian Muslims) as killers. It is capable of igniting crisis and precipitating a general breakdown of law and order. The video board must therefore do the needful.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)