Unchained Vibes Africa and Nigerian Bar Association Host Freedom Vibes Summit to Safeguard Creativity on Digital Platforms

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Unchained Vibes Africa, in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association’s Media and Creativity Committee, successfully hosted the Freedom Vibes Summit at Freedom Park, Lagos, on 30th May 2024. The theme for the summit is “Safeguarding Creativity on Digital Platforms.” The hybrid event brought together a diverse group of delegates from across Nigeria and beyond, representing the creative sector, civil society organizations (CSOs), and relevant government agencies. Participants included filmmakers, skit makers, lawyers, musicians, actors, content creators, police representatives, and other government officials.

The summit provided a platform for robust dialogue and debate on policies, regulations, and laws affecting artistic expressions in Nigeria. Key issues discussed included the enforcement of bans on the use of law enforcement uniforms in creative works and new regulations by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) restricting smoking and ritual scenes in movies, skits, and music videos.

According to a communique released at the end of the event jointly signed by Ayodele Ganiu, Executive Producer, Unchained Vibes Africa and Yahaya Maikori, Chairman, NBA Media and Creativity Committee, some of the Key concerns raised are-

  1. Use of Law Enforcement Uniforms: Artists expressed concerns over the ban on the depiction of police and other security agencies in their works without permission. This restriction, enforced under Section 251 of the Nigerian Criminal Code and Section 133 of the Penal Code, has created fear among artists who aim to critique authorities and demand accountability.
  2. Content Restrictions: The federal government’s regulation on depicting smoking and ritual scenes was seen as censorship, limiting the artists’ ability to tell complete stories.
  3. Dangerous Pranks: Concerns were raised about prank skits that could lead to unlawful activities or endanger lives.
  4. Use of Minors: Stakeholders highlighted the problematic practice of casting children in inappropriate scenes.

The participants at the summit observed that-

  • Legal experts pointed out exceptions in the law that allow the use of uniforms for public entertainment, which are often overlooked by enforcement agencies.
  • The NFVCB clarified that their regulations are meant to include health warnings rather than outright bans.
  • Stakeholders emphasized the need for reforms and better understanding between artists and security agencies to foster a conducive environment for creativity.

Participants’ recommendations include-

  1. Internal Reforms: Security agencies should implement reforms to address misconduct and improve personnel welfare.
  2. Civil Challenges: Artists are encouraged to challenge restrictive policies peacefully and within the bounds of the law.
  3. Education and Awareness: Security agencies need to understand artistic freedom to avoid unnecessary clampdowns on creative works.
  4. Authorization Process: A transparent and efficient process for obtaining permission to use uniforms and props in productions should be established.
  5. Legal Awareness: Artists should be well-versed in laws affecting their work to understand their rights and responsibilities.
  6. Stakeholder Engagement: More meetings between artists and security agencies should be organized to resolve conflicts and build better relationships.
  7. Legislative Advocacy: The NFVCB should work towards amending its act to transition from censorship to classification, earning the trust of creative practitioners.

The summit concluded with a commitment to continued collaboration among stakeholders to ensure the protection of artistic freedom and the promotion of creativity in Nigeria.

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