Reactions have continued to trail the installation of Senator representing Adamawa North Senatorial District, Elisha Abbo as a patron of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN).
Abbo was installed as a patron of the AGN at its 9th Biennial Lecture held on March 11 in Abuja. However, players in Nollywood have roundly condemned his choice.
Actresses Kate Henshaw and Hilda Dokubo, as well as some Northern Nigeria actors, said Abbo does not merit the honour. They noted that his trial for assaulting a nursing mother in a sex toy shop in Abuja 2019 disqualified him from the recognition.
On Tuesday, the Ibadan Film Circle (IFC), a gathering of professional filmmakers, culture activists, scholars and art enthusiasts, also condemned Abbo’s appointment, noting that he is “a proven perpetrator of gender-based violence.”
In a statement signed by its Administrator, Ropo Ewenla, the IFC described the AGN’s action as “grossly insensitive and immoral.”
The body advised the AGN not to “engage in such petty and pedestrian pursuits as trying to whitewash the public image of a person like Mr Elisha Cliff Abbo, whose crudity is unbefitting of any peace-loving member of the society.”
It added that “We at IFC believe that it is shameful enough that Senator Elisha Cliff Abbo seems not only to have gotten away with his despicable act but has also been arrogantly unremorseful about it. Against this background, we find that the AGN’s decision to honour him as a Patron is grossly insensitive and even immoral. We believe that there are many upright and emotionally stable members of the society who can be found fit for this revered position. It is an affront on decency for Senator Elisha Cliff Abbo, a woman beater, to now strut as a ‘Patron’ of AGN, a body of artists who are role models and by recognition of this fact, brand ambassadors to some corporate institutions and developmental agencies.”
The IFC called on the national executive council of the AGN too immediately withdraw the honour given to Abbo to avoid tarnishing its image. “We also call on all chapters of AGN at state and local government levels to prevail on the national council to rescind this ill-thought decision that stands only to tarnish the good name that the Guild has built over the years in the Nigerian social imaginary. Finally, we appeal to all stakeholders in the Nigerian film, theatre and media practices as well as the general public to clamour for the erasure of this ‘honour’, which a social misfit has used his deep pockets to purchase from an unreflecting group of men and women in AGN.
“All these, we at IFC believe, should be done if only to send a clear message that acts of violence and abuse against women should not be applauded or rewarded in whatever form of disguise. We commend especially, the few female members of AGN who have raised their voices against this move and enjoin more to speak up. We challenge all well-meaning Nigerians to also speak up against this trend. To let Senator Elisha Cliff Abbo remain a patron of the Actors Guild of Nigeria is to applaud and reward him for being a high-flying exponent of gender-based violence. This is wrong.”