By Biodun Busari
Lagos indigenes under the aegis of the Isale Eko Descendants’ Union (IDU) have petitioned the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) over alleged defamation of their community and Eyo masquerade in the Gangs of Lagos film.
In a statement signed by the Union’s Chairman, Mr Yomi Tokosi, Gangs of Lagos released on Amazon Prime Video on April 7, 2023, scandalously portrayed the Isale Eko community and Eyo in the bad light of platforms for criminal activities.
The union expressed displeasure that Isale Eko was painted as a crime hub in the film directed by Jadesola Osiberu, and co-produced by Kemi Akindoju, adding that it brought the indigenes into blatant shame.
The statement read, “The attention of the Isale Eko Descendants’ Union (IDU) has been drawn to the very disturbing violent images in a new movie directed by Jade Osiberu and Kemi Lala Akindoju, executive produced by Adesegun Adetoro, Demi Olubanwo, Olumide Soyombo, Bankole Wellington, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, and Kola Aina; and filmed by Greoh Studios, and released by Amazon’s Prime Video Nigeria called gangs of Lagos.”
IDU stated further, “In the movie, the unique Eyo masquerade indigenous to the Isale Eko community in Lagos was illegally and scandalously depicted as being used as a camouflage, decoy and subterfuge for murderers and gangsters operating in the Isale Eko area.”
The Union stressed that Eyo has been the exclusive cultural legacy of the indigenous Lagosians for close to 170 years, thus slamming Gangs of Lagos and its owners for viewing it in a “despicable and insensitive manner.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Eyo masquerade has been part of the unique cultural heritage of the Isale Eko community of Lagos since 1854 (169 years) and the Eyo is known as a masquerade for celebration in Lagos island and not an instrument of gangs of criminals as illegally and scandalously portrayed.
It said, “Most importantly, the movie has brought the Eyo masquerade and the people of Isale Eko into disrepute, who are now deemed criminally minded in the eyes of right-thinking members of the society.
“The Isale Eko descendants’ union is very disturbed that the culture and tradition of Isale Eko can be wantonly exploited in such a despicable and insensitive manner by Amazon Prime Video to the detriment of the Isale Eko community.
“The illegal and scandalous depiction of the Eyo masquerade in the movie is actionable and a petition has been lodged by the IDU with the National Film and Video Censors Board (NF&VCB) including other major stakeholders.
“The IDU has among other things requested that the NF&VCB withdraw the approval granted to the movie- Gangs of Lagos and direct the withdrawal of the movie from all viewing channels available to the public. The IDU and other community stakeholders will also be considering legal action for the damage done to the culture, tradition and image of the Isale Eko community and the Eyo masquerade.”