The Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) has petitioned the Lagos State governor Mr Akinwumi Ambode over the jailing and comtinued harassment of performance artist, Jelili Atiku.
Jelili Atiku, a prominent member of the Lagos art community was unlawfully arrested on Monday, 18th January 2016 by the police during a public performance.
He was arraigned and subsequently remanded in prison for allegedly conspiring with 4 other persons to commit felony to wit public disturbance with his artistic performance on the 14th day of January 2016 at about 5.40pm along Ifoshi Road, Ejigbo in the Lagos.
While Mr Atiku was released on bail on 20th January with the two of his audience members, two others are still being held in Kirikiri maximum prison as at the time of this publication.
In a letter dated 20th January, CORA requested that the charges against Mr Atiku be dropped and that justice be brought against malicious individuals using police and courts to oppress an innocent citizen.
Read full petition below.
REQUEST FOR STATE AUTHORITIES’ INTERVENTION TO DROP CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST ARTIST JELILI ATIKU/REQUEST TO PROTECT AN INNOCENT CITIZEN AGAINST MALICIOUS PROSECUTION
TO: His Excellency
(I) Mr AkinwunmiAmbode
(II) Barrister Kazeem Adeniji
Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State
(III) Mr Fatai Owoseni
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State
Jelili Atiku, a citizen of Lagos State from Ejigbo and a prominent member of the Lagos art community was unlawfully arrested on Monday the 18th day of January 2016 by the police. He was arraigned and subsequently remanded in prison for allegedly conspiring with 4 other persons to commit felony to wit public disturbance with his artistic performance on the 14th day of January 2016 at about 5.40pm along Ifoshi Road, Ejigbo in the Lagos.
|This unlawful arrest by the Nigerian police and subsequent detention does not only demonstrate flagrant abuse of the artist’s fundamental human right enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, it also shows the level of impunity with which some individuals, who are intolerant to arts, use the police and magistrate courts to oppress individuals exercising their freedom of expression through arts and creativity.
|Jelili Atiku is an imaginative performance artist whose provocative spectacles use striking attire, unsettling body language and unusual props to open up dialogue and influence popular attitudes. He drops himself right into the heart of Lagos, into the realities of the streets, of densely populated areas and entices people to interact and respond to his visual presentations.Rooted in Yoruba performance traditions, Atiku brings local elements to international performance practice, creating an extraordinary mix of action, symbolism, storytelling, disguise, costume, colour coding and theatricality. A rigorous researcher, his subjects include commentary on Nigerian human rights in the Assassination of a Political Prisoner; politically charged critiques of the ruling class and Boko Haram; site-specific interventions on climate change, e-waste and fuel subsidies; and Araferaku (loosely translated as A Part of Me is Missing), a moving personal eulogy to his father.
Jelili Atiku was the only Nigerian awarded Prince Claus Laurel, a prestigious global award recognizing accomplishments in arts and culture, held in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) in December 2015 for creating a new artistic language combining Yoruba traditional art forms with international performance practice; for his thought-provoking performances that challenge assumptions and stimulate dialogue in an unconventional and dynamic form of community education; for taking personal and artistic risks in order to open new possibilities and reach wider audiences; and for his pioneering dedication to establishing space for contemporary performance art in Nigeria.
|It was in pursuance of these aspirations that he presented his latest work Aragamagooo on Thursday 14th January 2016 in Ejigbo community area of Lagos. It is disheartening to note that, rather than celebrate this artist who has brought honour to Lagos State and Nigeria, the accusers are using the police and courts to maliciously prosecute him.
In the light of the above, WE the undersigned herebydeclare that the arrest, arraignment and the ongoing prosecution of Jelili Atiku is a clear disregard for creativity and extreme hostility to artistic expression
WE the undersigned, on this 20th January 2016, hereby petition the Executive Governor of Lagos State, the Commissioner of Police and the Lagos State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General as follows: –
|1. To intervene and drop the 4-count criminal charge in the attached copy of the case/suit instituted against JELILI ATIKU
2. To bring to justice malicious individuals using police and courts to oppress an innocent citizen