Legal Drama

Lawyer Turned Filmmaker Obi Emelonye Arrested for Shooting without a Permit in Lagos Skies

Lawyer turned film maker Obi Emelonye was recently arrested for shooting aerial shots of Lagos from the Lagos skies without a permit. Upon arrest, he took to twitter to share his arrest but probably was surprised by the responses. Majority seem to side with the state saying Obi should know better and should have obtained a permit before shooting, especially given the high alert security risk in Nigeria right now with Boko Haram.

Why Obi did not get a permit remains a mystery to me. He mentions in his tweet about “making Lagos great.” Hmmm . . . You come from UK to Lagos to shoot a film beneficial to you as a commercial filmmaker, you don’t get a permit which you know would be required of you in the UK and should know would be required of you in Nigeria. When you are arrested, your first response is you wanting to make Lagos, “great?” What has Fashola been doing if it only takes a few b-roll of aerial shots for you to make Lagos great?

I reached out to get a statement from Obi since I had delayed sharing this for a week to hear more. As of the time of this publishing I received none. Obi was a few hours, after his arrest last week, released.

Moral of the story? Get your permits AML filmmakers if you will shoot in Lagos. Also, don’t think because you live abroad, or have a few blockbuster movies under your belt, you will be exonerated from legal accountability in a a state like Lagos; where the Fashola government is on it and determined to change the lack of compliance with the rule of law in Lagos.


“[I have] just been arrested with my team from the UK by Lagos TV for taking aerial shots of Lagos around Shoprite Ikeja; using remote helicopters. As a media house they should understand what we are trying to do. But they want to put me in jail for making Lagos look great. I am resigned to my fate and allowed God to take control. Challenges we face in trying to grow the industry. Pray for me and pray for Nigeria,” -Obi Emelonye

His subsequent follow up, “We have just been released by Lagos state governor’s security detail after an ordeal that has embarrassed me more before my guests than it hurt me. We thank God and I am grateful for your kind support. God bless you all.”

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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