The Isale Eko Descendants Union (IDU) has charged Amazon and Gangs of Lagos producers for misrepresentation of the claimants’ territory and culture.
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Following the release of the first Amazon African Original movie, Gangs of Lagos, on Friday, 7th of April, 2023, and a global acceptance of the movie, Amazon Web Services (the founder of Prime Video Nigeria and a subsidiary of Amazon Inc.) and the producers of the title have been sued by the Isale Eko Descendants Union, owing to how Isale Eko (the town which the film is set in) is being depicted in the movie.
The case has been brought before Justice Idowu Alakija of the Lagos High Court, and the company has been sued with a claim of N10 billion for damages. The claimants in the case are Chief Ayodele Bajulaiye, representing Bajulaiye Chieftaincy Family and Eyo Bajulaiye; and Chief Abdul-Waheed Ayenu, representing Sasore Chieftaincy Family and Eyo Iga Sasore. They claim that the film wrongly depicts the Eyo masquerades as a gang, and the territory as an oven for criminals.
The case has been fixed by Justice Alakija for October to determine the objection of Amazon to the case.
In a preliminary objection, Amazon Web Service had responded that Gangs of Lagos is not injurious to anyone.
Other defendants in the case are Jadesola Osiberu, Kemi Lala-Akindoju, Bankole Wellington, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Olumide Soyombo, Adesegun Addetoro, Demi Olubanwo, Kola Aina, and Greoh Limited.
The defendants argued that Lagos State’s cinematography law was not applicable in the case. It argued that the National Film and Video Censors Board Act, 1993, is the applicable law in the case, not the Cinematography Law of Lagos State, 2004.
Amazon has questioned the regulatory role of the Lagos State government in the case. It has thus asked the court to dismiss the Lagos State Cinematography Law.
Similarly, the Oba of Lagos, Ridwan Akiolu, has also described the film as being sacrilegious by portraying the scared Eyo masquerades as a criminal gang that commit atrocities on the lives of innocent citizens. He made his concerns known in a three-paged letter addressed to Amazon Nigeria and Greoh Limited on the 28th of June, stating four conditions to be met by the producers within 14 days.
According to him, “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 intellectual property rights in our cultural heritage.
“This cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes 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 defiled in any way whatsoever.”
While citing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 to buttress that the film infringed on the rights of the indigenous people of Lagos, he mentioned that the law allows them to protect, practice, and revitalize their past, present, and future cultural traditions and customs.
The monarch has thus demanded that an immediate stoppage be brought to the usage and depiction of the Eyo in the movie.
The defendants argue that the film ought not to be censored under the Lagos Cinematography law, but rather under the National Film and Video Censors Board Acts, and that the film is not injurious to anybody.
With the preliminary objection from the defendants set for October, Shock will surely keep you in the loop as the case progresses.