Following the controversies that have trailed the movie, “Gangs of Lagos”, since it was released on Amazon Prime Video, the National Film and Video Censors Board, NFVCB, has explained why they cannot ban it.
The Executive Director and CEO of the regulatory body, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, said the board can’t take any action against the movie for now.
According to him, the NFVCB has no legal backing to regulate what is being exhibited on the online platform.
Alhaji Thomas made this known in a telephone chat with Newsmen yesterday.
He regretted that regulating online platform poses a lot of difficulties since it’s not part of the mandate of the Board.
“Have you seen the movie in any cinema house or being exhibited in any open space? Our job does not cover regulating online platforms.
“I don’t know why people are referring to the Censors Board to take action. We have a bill before the National Assembly seeking to empower the Board to regulate online platforms and any other platforms where movies are exhibited.
“Online platform is difficult to regulate and it’s not part of our mandate,” Alhaji Thomas explained.
His explanation became necessary as Lagos indigenes, on the platform of Isale Eko Descendants’ Union (IDU) recently petitioned the Censors Board over alleged defamation of their community and Eyo masquerade in the ‘Gangs of Lagos’ film.
Lagos State Government, on its part, described the movie as a cultural misrepresentation as well as portraying the culture of the state in a derogatory manner.
According to the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, the Ministry, being the regulatory body and custodian of the culture of Lagos State, viewed the film as a mockery of the heritage of Lagos.
Moreso, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, has called for calm over the uproar created by the production of a new film, “Gangs Of Lagos”.
Runsewe, in a statement on Friday, said there was need for strategic rethinking on cultural related narratives by filmmakers in Nigeria to avoid public resentments and reactions.
The “Gang of Lagos” which premiered on April 7 and has generated reactions.
The Lagos state government in its reaction earlier said the movie portrayed the Eyo Masquerade as a gun-wielding villain while adorning the full traditional regalia. The state also felt it was a misrepresentation of cultural ethos of Eyo masquerade and insulting to the tradition and history of Lagos indigenes.
Runsewe, however, pleaded with the state government and the good people of Lagos to forgive the infractions contained in the flick, assuring to arrest such cultural insensitivity headlong.
He noted that the Eyo masquerade was one of the key cultural tourism products associated with the history of Lagos and Nigerian culture.
Runsewe advised film makers to be well guided when producing for public consumption on Nigerian cultural history so as not to provoke tension and irritations across the country.
“Lagos state government, for instance has invested and continues to champion the growth of the creative sector, targeting young persons for training in all aspects of film making and production.
“With community theatre halls built at each of its local geo-space and even with John Randle Yoruba Museum, where researches on Yoruba culture and tradition can be learnt first hand.
“So, films with narratives on the ways of life of our people must trend on best acceptable and sensitive information profiling,” he said.
He advised that dedicated investigation should be carried out in the creative industry. Creatives should also collaborate with custodians of national cultural and traditional institutions.
“During the last National Festival for Arts and Culture in Lagos, we, at NCAC wrote to the Oba of Lagos, requesting the participation of the iconic Eyo masquerade.
“We were made to appreciate and understand that Eyo masquerade public appearance is guided by certain traditional ethics and procedure, so we expect our filmmakers to follow same engagement route.
“Honestly, we at NCAC appreciate Nigerian filmmakers for the efforts to use such narratives, to contribute to national cultural tourism rebirth and acceptation, including its international cultural tourism value chain.
“But we must advise that a cultural sensitivity context and content analysis should be part of both production and post-production ecosystem,” he said.
Co-produced by Kemi Lala Akindoju and Jade Osiberu, ‘Gangs of Lagos’ was released on Amazon Prime Video, an online platform on April 7.
It features the likes of Tobi Bakare, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Chike Osebuka, Chioma Chukwuka, Olarotimi Fakunle, Chioma Chukwuka, Bimbo Ademoye.
Other stars of the hit movie are Iyabo Ojo, Zlatan, Debo “Mr Maraconi” Adedayo, Yhemolee, Pasuma, Toyin Abraham, Tayo Faniran, Damilola Ogunsi, Funke Williams, among others.