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Gangs of Lagos Movie Sacrilegious to Our Cultural Heritage Rights, Oba of Lagos Alleges

He asked Amazon Web Service, Greoh Studios, and the film producers “to immediately remove, cease from using the image getup and manifestation of the Eyo in the Gangs of Lagos.”

For the first time since the production of ‘Gangs of Lagos’ four months ago, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Aremu Akiolu has described the movie as defamatory and sacrilegious for depicting the Eyo as criminal gangs that commit grotesque murder and visit terror on innocent citizens.
The monarch has therefore asked Amazon Web Service, Greoh Studios, and the film producers “to immediately remove, cease from using the image getup and manifestation of the Eyo in the Gangs of Lagos.”
He raised grave concerns about the film in a three-page letter he addressed to the management of Amazon Prime Nigeria and Greoh Limited on June 28, listing four conditions that the producers and promoters should meet within 14 days.


Since its official release on April 7, Gangs of Lagos has been a subject of controversy among the indigenous people of Lagos State with the Isale Eko Descendants Union claiming that the film depicted Isale Eko as a den of criminals and Eyo masquerade as a gang of murderers.
The descendants of Isale Eko had equally instituted a suit seeking N10 billion damages against Amazon and other producers over what they described as huge reputational damage the Gangs of Lagos inflicted on the Eyo brand.
In his letter copied the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Oba Akiolu claimed that the illegal representation of the Eyo has caused huge reputational damage to the Eyo brand by the defamatory movie which portrayed the brand as an instrument of terror, mayhem, and murder.  
On the international stage, the monarch claimed that potential tourists and visitors to Lagos are likely to question the authenticity of the Eyo as a true cultural event deserving of respect and reverence.


He further claimed that the film producers had used the complete getup, indistinguishable image, and traditionally designed and ordained appearance of the Eyo which forms part of the cultural heritage of the indigenous people of Lagos, for commercial gain and exploitation without permission or due reference to the office of the Oba of Lagos.
 “I am the custodian and final authority of the Adimu Orisa and its manifestation the Eyo. These traditional rites are the tangible and intangible property of the indigenes of Lagos and these are their bundle of rights of our intellectual property in our cultural heritage.
“This cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes, that have been inherited from past generations over two hundred years ago, maintained in the present by the Oba of Lagos, and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.


“These traditions express our way of life and thought. They are proof of our intellectual and spiritual achievements. They must not be used without the indigenous owners’ express permission or desecrated in any way whatsoever,” the monarch wrote.
The monarch alleged that the film grossly violated the rights of the indigenous people of Lagos contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007.
Oba Akiolu argued that the declaration protects “our indigenous right to practise and revitalise our cultural traditions and customs.
“This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of our cultures, including artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies, and visual and performing arts and literature.”


On these grounds, the monarch demanded that the continued use and depiction of the Eyo in this film and its obvious violation of our indigenous intellectual property rights as well as, at the same time defaming our sacred rites, should stop forthwith.
As part of peace conditions, the monarch directed the film producers “to immediately remove, cease from using the image get up and manifestation of the Adimu Orisa – the Eyo – your film Gangs of Lagos.”
He also asked the film producers to submit within 14 days a proposal for consideration – for the restitution of the sanctity of the Eyo brand.
The monarch also asked the film producers “to 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.”

The monarch finally demanded that the producers of Gangs of Lagos should submit within 14 days a draft of an appropriately worded apology to the Oba of Lagos and the indigenous people of Lagos.

Gboyega Akinsanmi

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