Journalist narrates how Katsina  Hisbah detained, threatened him for requesting an interview

By Zagazola Makama

A Katsina-based journalist, Jamil Mabai, has narrated his ordeal in the hands of officials of Katsina State Hisbah Board for requesting a follow up interview on an incident that led to the death of a resident.

He said he was at the Hisbah office to get a clearer picture of what transpired at a wedding ceremony last week in which shots were fired by Hisbah operatives who stormed the event to disrupt it because a disc jockey (DJ) was performing. According to him, Hisbah officials fired AK47 guns which sadly took the life of a guest, Mallam Gambo and injured many others.

The Katsina State Hisbah Board had for no specific reasons banned the activities of DJs in the state.

At the office to learn more about the unfortunate incident involving Hisbah operatives, Mabai was tricked into a corner where he was arrested and his phones confiscated on the orders of the Commandant.

"Following the ungly incident at the wedding ceremony, I contacted the Katsina Hisbah Public Relations Officer (PRO) to request a follow-up interview regarding Mallam Gambo's death.

"Upon my arrival at the Hisbah office, I couldn't find the PRO. Unknown to me, it was a setup. Soon enough some Hisbah officers approached me, claiming they were instructed to detain me.

"Despite explaining that I was a journalist there for an interview, they insisted that they had orders to detain me and confiscated my phone. I thereafter herded into a cell.

"I was later brought before the Commandant in his office where he threatened to deal with me for fighting with religion and God. He said there is nothing I or anybody can do to stop him and his officers from carrying on with their activities. He warned me to steer clear otherwise I will have myself to blame.

"Even when I informed them that detaining a journalist in their premises without any reason or opportunity to write a statement is a clear violation of press freedom, the arrogant officials were not bothered.

"I was released to be released after more than an hour of tongue-lashing and threats".

The entire ordeal suffered by the journalist Mabai in the hands of Katsina State Hisbah once again raises serious questions about the activities of the so-called moral police in the North and also stirs concerns about what the proposed state police could be used for in the states if eventually created.

A civil servant in the state who pleaded not to be named for fear of harassment said it is rather worrisome that the Katsina State Government is watching while Hisbah operatives are running riot in the state with their provocative actions.

"The Katsina State Hisbah operatives who are mostly illiterates who barely understand their mandates are known and reviled for provocative actions against residents of the state all in the name of instilling morals.

"They go about the streets harassing innocent citizens; they flog people, forcefully cut people's hair, destroy and cart away people's wares and so on".

Even more worrisome is that these barely literate, poorly-trained individuals wield assault rifles in the caliber of AK 47 with which they are terrorizing residents.

A number of people whose opinions were also sought on the activities of the organization are of the view that the State Government must rein in on them before they cause serious crisis in the state.

They wondered why a resident should lose his precious life simply because a bunch of moral thugs are against a DJ performing at a wedding. What is the offense in having a DJ perform in someone's wedding? What Nigerian law did that contravene? they ask.

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