Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos has described the movie “Gangs of Lagos” offensive and sacrilegious for portraying the ‘Eyo’ as criminal gangs that perpetrate gruesome murder and terrorize the innocent.
On June 28, the traditional ruler expressed his concerns about the film in a three-page letter to the managements of Amazon Prime Nigeria and Greoh Ltd., citing four requirements that the producers and promoters must meet within 14 days.
According to NAN, Akiolu demanded that Amazon Web Service, Greoh Studios, and the film producers “immediately remove, cease, and desist from using the image getup and manifestation of the Eyo in the Gangs of Lagos.”
According to the traditional ruler, the film has done significant damage to the Eyo brand’s reputation.
Gangs of Lagos has caused controversy among the indigenous people of Lagos State since its debut, with the Isale Eko Descendants Union (IDU) saying that the film portrays Isale Eko as a nest of criminals and Eyo masquerade as a gang of murderers.
The heirs of Isale Eko had filed a suit demanding N10 billion in damages from Amazon and other producers for what they said as massive reputational damage caused on the Eyo brand by the Gangs of Lagos.
In his letter, Akiolu copied Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, saying that the movie’s unauthorized depiction of the Eyo had caused significant reputational damage to the Eyo band.
On the international arena, potential tourists and visitors to Lagos, according to the traditional ruler, are likely to question the legitimacy of the Eyo as an authentic cultural heritage event worthy of respect and reverence.
He further alleged that the film producers used the whole getup, indistinguishable image, and historically created and ordained look of the Eyo, which is part of Lagos’ indigenous people’s cultural heritage, for commercial advantage and exploitation.
He said that this was done without authorization or proper regard for the office of the Oba of Lagos.
“I am the Adimu Orisa’s custodian and final authority, as well as its manifestation, the Eyo.” These traditional rites are the physical and intangible property of Lagos indigenes, and they constitute their bundle of intellectual property rights in our cultural heritage.
“This cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes inherited from previous generations over two centuries ago, preserved in the present by the Oba of Lagos, and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.”
“These traditions reflect our way of life and thought.” They are evidence of our intellectual and spiritual progress. “They must not be used or desecrated in any way without the express permission of the indigenous owners,” he warned.
The Oba claimed that the video infringed the rights of Lagos’ indigenous peoples in violation of the standard of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Oba Akiolu said the declaration protects “our indigenous right to practise and revitalise our cultural traditions and customs under international law.”
“This includes the right to maintain, protect, and develop our cultures’ past, present, and future manifestations, including artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies, visual and performing arts, and literature.”
Oba Akiolu therefore demanded that the film’s continuous usage and depiction of the Eyo, as well as its blatant infringement of indigenous intellectual property rights and defamation of sacred rites, be stopped forthwith.
As part of the conditions of the agreement, Akiolu ordered the film’s producers to “immediately remove, cease, and desist from using the image getup and manifestation of the Adimu Orisa – the Eyo – in your film Gangs of Lagos.”
According to NAN, the Lagos monarch also instructed the film producers to submit a proposal for the restitution of the sanctity of the Eyo brand within 14 days.
He requested that the film’s producers “provide within 14 days a compensatory proposal for the infringement of our intellectual property rights in our cultural heritage, which you have commercially exploited without licence.”
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