The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, has asked the producers of a movie, Gangs of Lagos, and Amazon Prime Video, the video streaming platform it is on to immediately remove, cease from using the image and manifestation of the Eyo masquerade in the film.
Written by Kay Jegede and Jade Osiberu, the movie was produced and directed by Jade Osiberu and Kemi Lala Akindoju, and was released on Prime Video on April 7, 2023.
Several criticisms had trailed the movie since its release for its portrayal of the Eyo masquerade as the ‘first gang of Lagos’.
Oba Akiolu, in a statement obtained by our correspondent, described the movie as a defamatory and sacrilegious one, which inflicted huge reputational damage on the Eyo brand.
The statement read in part, “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.
“This cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes, that have been inherited from past generations for over 200 years, 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.”
Recall that Oba Akiolu had, in a three-page letter to Osiberu’s Greoh Studios and Amazon Web Service, on June 28, insisted that the image and manifestation of Eyo should be removed from the movie.
He accused the producers of using the appearance of the Eyo for commercial gain and exploitation without permission or due reference to the oba’s office.
Akiolu had copied the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the Vice President of Amazon Web Services in Luxembourg, Barbara Scarafia; the President of Isale-Eko Descendants Union, and a Lagos lawyer, Olasupo Shasore, SAN, among others.
The letter read in part, “Immediately remove and cease from using the image get up and manifestation of the Adimu Orisa — The Eyo — in your film, Gangs of Lagos. Submit within 14 days a proposal for consideration— for the restitution of the sanctity of the Eyo; provide within 14 days’ compensatory proposal for the infringement of our intellectual property rights in our cultural heritage which you have commercially exploited without license; submit within 14 days a draft of an appropriately worded apology to the Oba and indigenous people of Lagos.”
The 14-day ultimatum would expire on July 12.
It should be noted that the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, the Isale Eko Descendants’ Union and other notable actors, such as as Jide Koskoko, had at different times disagreed with the portrayal of the Eyo masquerade in the movie.
Meanwhile, a co-writer of the movie, Kay Jegede, had stated that the movie did not set out to denigrate the Eyo culture. In an interview with Vanguard Newspaper, Jegede was quoted to have said, “The story does not set out to denigrate the Eyo culture. A film is about characters, and if a criminal disguises himself as a revered cultural symbol, surely it does not equate to the filmmakers disrespecting the symbol.