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Occupy Nigeria Documentary: Banned by Censors, Viral on YouTube

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 23 2013

Screengrab of the video Fuelling Poverty

A documentary about the removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria, which drove the cost of living up, the quality life down and kicked off the Occupy Nigeria protests, went viral after being banned by the Nigerian authorities. The film “Fuelling Poverty” premiered in December 2012 and the director Ishaya Bako then submitted it to Nigeria’s National Film and Video Censors Board for approval. On April 8, the board responded by letter, banning the documentary and prohibiting Bako from distributing it independently. It now has almost 55,000 views on YouTube and on April 20, in spite of the ban, organizers of the African Movie Academy Awards voted it Best Documentary.

The 30-minute film has two intertwined parts: the history of the fuel subsidies and coverage of the Occupy Nigeria movement. One online commentator was impressed with the quality and execution of the film, but confused as to what makes it so provocative and offensive to the Nigerian government, since most of the information and images are widely available on the internet.

The ban was announced the same day that police detained four Nigerian journalists for refusing to reveal a source in a story that alleged the president was attempting to prevent the merger of two opposition parties. Critics have cited the banning of the documentary as further evidence Nigeria is verging on a dictatorship.

After the African Academy Awards were announced, a writer and media consultant in Nigeria said, “This is an humiliation for the Nigerian government. . . It is a shame that a man the government declared a person non grata is now being lavishly celebrated right in President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state.”

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