An Islamic court in northern Nigeria has ordered police to arrest and investigate 10 local celebrities for immoral social media conduct that may influence young people.
The court issued the order last week after lawyers filed a lawsuit calling for them to be sued for singing and dancing to “immoral” songs and sharing them online, said Baba-Jibo Ibrahim, a judicial spokesperson.
The celebrities charged, four men and six women, include a popular hip-hop singer, a famous film actress and eight hugely successful TikTok influencers.
The order highlights the strict measures often employed by authorities in Nigeria’s Muslim-majority north to regulate social media content and force users to conform to tradition and religious norms.
Sharia operates alongside criminal and civil law in Nigeria’s 12 Muslim-majority northern states.
Hip-hop singer, Ado Gwanja is accused of releasing a song called A Sosa, meaning Scratch your body, in the Hausa language which other celebrities have danced to in online videos.
The song and videos caused a stir in Kano, the country’s second largest city, prompting condemnation from religious extremists.
But none of the defendants have been arrested or reported to police, nine days after the court order, Ibrahim said.
“We will await the completion of the investigation by the police for the next course of action to be taken by the court,” he said.
None of the celebrities has yet publicly reacted.
Earlier in the week, the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, banned TV and radio stations from playing another Gwanja song for containing obscenities and “representing drunkenness as an acceptable way of life”.
Kannywood has previously come under scrutiny from Muslim clerics and officials who believe it promotes un-Islamic foreign values, prompting authorities to set up a censorship board.
Kannywood’s increasing use of social media for skits and songs has prompted the council to extend its authority to social media.
“Social media has a wider reach and potential to deliver content to a wide audience,” said Ismail Na-Abba, head of Kano’s film censorship board.
“For this, we will not allow anyone to hide under the omnipresence of social networks to spread immoral content.”