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‘Gangs of Lagos’ production sacrilegious to cultural heritage rights – Oba 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.

Oba Rilwan Akiolu.

The traditional ruler raised concerns about the film in a three-page letter he addressed to the managements of Amazon Prime Nigeria and Greoh Ltd. on June 28, listing four conditions that the producers and promoters should meet within 14 days.

Akiolu called Amazon Web Service, Greoh Studios and the film producers “to 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 inflicted huge reputational damage on the Eyo brand.

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Gangs of Lagos, since its release has been a subject of controversies among the indigenous people of Lagos State with the Isale Eko Descendants Union (IDU) 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 ₦10 billion damages against Amazon and other producers over what they described as huge reputational damage the Gangs of Lagos inflicted on the Eyo brand.

Akiolu, in his letter, copied Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, claiming that the illegal representation of the Eyo by the movie had caused huge reputational damage to the Eyo brand.

The traditional ruler also claimed that on the international stage, potential tourists and visitors to Lagos were likely to query the authenticity of the Eyo as true cultural heritage 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.

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This, he said, was done 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 artefacts and intangible attributes that has 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 proofs of our intellectual and spiritual achievements. They must not be used without the indigenous owners’ express permission or desecrated in any way whatsoever,” he said.

The Oba 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.

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Under the international law, Oba Akiolu noted 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, includes artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.”

Oba Akiolu, therefore, demanded that the continued use and depiction of the Eyo in the film and its obvious violation of indigenous intellectual property rights as well as defaming sacred rites should stop forthwith.

As parts of peace conditions, Akiolu directed the film producers to “immediately remove, cease and desist from using the image getup 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.

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He asked the film producers to “provide within 14 days compensatory proposal for the infringement of our intellectual property rights in our cultural heritage which you have commercially exploited without licence.”

The traditional ruler 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 indigenous people of Lagos.

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