The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has expressed disapproval at the portrayal of Shiites in a yet-to-be-released Nollywood movie titled, ‘Fatal Arrogance’.
Pete Edochie plays the lead role in the film, which was shot in Enugu and produced by Anosike Kingsley Orji.
The movie’s official trailer is yet to be released, however, its behind-the-scenes and a 12-minute-clip from the set are already generating controversy on social media.
The group linked the movie to a book of the same title as the movie, ‘Fatal Arrogance’ written by Kuanum Terrence, launched in Abuja on February 19. They had accused the author of being a military apologist.
IMN maintained that the movie is a propagandist portrayal of its detained leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and the Shiite followers.
In a statement published on their official Facebook page on Tuesday, the group said they were shocked by the film ‘‘where the popular Islamic Movement in Nigeria and its leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky are being depicted and badly portrayed as terrorists.’’
Describing the social media clips of the film which surfaced on the internet as bizarre, they added that they have petitioned the Films and Censorship Board as well as the Inspector-General of police over the matter.
The group added that they believe that the movie is being sponsored by the Nigerian Army and is especially worried that Edochie is lending it some credibility.
Their statement partly read as follows;
“In a normal circumstance, this kind of clips can be dismissed but not at times like these when Buhari regime is sponsoring a contractor/activist for, and supported by, the Nigerian Army like Kuanum Terrence and security operatives to launch offensive on the Islamic Movement that has a reputation for upholding peace even at the peak of unprovoked attacks.”
They condemned Edochie for taking on the role.
‘‘He would not have accepted to appear in a movie tarnishing the image of an oppressed personality like Sheikh Zakzaky and still think he did nothing wrong because the Sheikh was not mentioned by name.’’
“Edochie has thrown his professionalism to the winds as he chose to be paid to distort historical facts, yet claiming not to refer to anybody, when clearly the cast bears all the telltale signs of mischievous attempt, at not only demonizing IMN, but also Islam as a whole.
‘‘Peaceful protesters of the Movement are mischievously depicted as armed protesters, with guns and knives tasty for the blood of the innocent. Yet, Edochie would rather that we waited for him and his perpetrator sponsors to complete their denigration and manipulation before we complain, even as we have seen enough to convince us of their wicked intents,’’ they maintained.
Edochie reacted to the group’s concern and alleged that he has been receiving threats since clips and photos from the movie set surfaced online.
The veteran actor however claimed that he was not aware of the film’s theme before he accepted to take on the role.
Clarifying his role in the film, he said, “I am supposed to have played a role that ridiculed their boss, chief, whoever is in charge of their group.’’
He also asked Nigerians not to condemn the movie until its final release.
“I don’t understand what the IMN is driving at. The film we shot is not even out, it has not been edited, the production is not complete. If they have complained to the Inspector-General of Police, and the IGP says give me a copy of the film, what are we going to do because the film is not in existence yet, it is not in circulation,’’ he said.
“I am suggesting that you wait, keep your gunpowder dry, when the film is released, you can now make your grumbles known to the Inspector-General of Police. Whatever is been done now is premature, it is not proper.
He added, “I did not write it, the film was produced by Kingsley Orji Anosike. If you want to express resentment over the production, which you have not watched, direct your grievances to the producer of the film not to Pete Edochie who is a mere actor, it does not concern me.
“I thank all those people who out of concern informed me of the campaign of deliberation of my person, the organised threat of my person by IMN, I thank you all. I’m a free born of Nigeria, I was born and raised in Nigeria. I’m not going to run away from Nigeria because a few individuals think they want things done in their own way.”
On Tuesday, a Kannywood actor, Yakubu Muhammed, expressed regrets for appearing in the film, in an interview with BBC Hausa.
According to him, he tried to persuade the filmmakers to correct some things in the movie.
He said, ‘‘I asked them to explain to me why they took the film to Enugu as the people there were not Muslims and it was difficult for them to play the right role with the right interpretation in the film. I looked like I was interfering.
‘‘Then there is another place that every Muslim, if he sees it, must be concerned. There is a photo of Mr Pete Edochie walking around in a Muslim dress, with a bottle of beer in his hand and with a girl.’’
The producer of the film has yet to react or respond to the outcries.