The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, has reiterated his demand for the removal of the depiction of the Eyo masquerade in the movie “Gangs of Lagos” by the movie producers and Amazon Prime Video, citing defamation and blasphemy. The monarch expressed concerns that the portrayal of the masquerade in the film has caused significant damage to the Eyo brand.
This development comes just three days before the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum given by the Oba to the movie producers, urging them to issue a properly worded apology to the Oba and the indigenous people of Lagos.
Previously, Oba Akiolu accused the producers of exploiting the appearance of the Eyo masquerade for commercial gain without obtaining permission or acknowledging the Oba’s office.
In a letter addressed to various parties, including the Lagos State Governor, the Vice President of Amazon Web Services, and a Lagos lawyer, the Oba demanded the immediate removal of the image and manifestation of the Eyo in the film. He also called for proposals to be submitted within 14 days to restore the sanctity of the Eyo and compensate for the infringement of intellectual property rights associated with the cultural heritage.
The 14-day ultimatum is set to expire on July 12.
In a recent statement, the Oba emphasized his role as the custodian and final authority of the Eyo masquerade, which is a tangible and intangible cultural heritage belonging to the indigenes of Lagos. He emphasized that these traditions should not be used or defiled without the express permission of the indigenous owners.
The movie “Gangs of Lagos,” written by Kay Jegede and Jade Osiberu and directed by Jade Osiberu and Kemi Lala Akindoju, has faced criticism for its portrayal of the Eyo masquerades. However, one of the co-writers, Kay Jegede, clarified that the film was not intended to denigrate the Eyo culture but rather depicted a character disguising himself as a revered cultural symbol. Jegede hoped that the movie would be viewed as a portrayal of the resilience of the human spirit in challenging circumstances.
The movie was released on Prime Video on April 7, 2023.