Protection of indigenous property in Ilishan-Remo community, Nigeria.

Author:Ojomah, Patience Ndidi


Nigeria has a rich body of indigenous knowledge developed over many centuries. This body of accumulated knowledge has played a vital role in agriculture, animal and human health, natural resources management, education, and other activities (Aliyu, 2008)

Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is local knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. It is the systematic body of knowledge acquired by local people through accumulation of experiences, informal experience and intimate understanding of the environment in a given culture (Warren, 1995). It is knowledge accumulated through periods of living in close interaction with nature. It covers religion, music, poetry, dance, art, architecture and many more. IK is the very foundation of traditional cultures and it is indivisible from a community's identities, value systems and laws. Therefore, cultural obligations towards communicating, sharing, using and applying this knowledge should be legally recognized and respected by the non-Indigenous actors of the Information Society (Commission on Human Rights, 2005).

Different mechanisms can serve as protective paradigms to different issues or ideas at different times. In any discussion on the protection of indigenous knowledge, the intellectual property law inevitably comes up. The ability and desirability of intellectual property law to become the main mechanism to address and redress matters as comprehensive and interdependent as protection of indigenous knowledge needs to be thoroughly considered.

Intellectual Property law refers to a group of legal regimes, each of which, to different degrees, confers rights of ownership in a particular subject matter. It is a product of human intellect considered as personal property, especially works protected under the law of copyright and inventions protected by patents (Feather & Sturges, 2003). Intellectual property law also deters others from copying or taking unfair advantage of the work or reputation of another and at the same time provides remedies should this happens. (Bainbridge, 1999).

Historical Description of Ilishan Remo

Ilishan Remo is situated in Ogun State, one of the 36 states in Nigeria. A study by Nwaomah, Audu, and Dickson (2010), revealed that Ilishan Remo, the fourth largest of the thirty-three towns in Remo Division of the State, is one of the first five towns (Akarigbo, Elepe, Alalisan, Alara and Alado) that resulted from the migration from Iremo quarters in Ile-Ife between 1400 and 1438 A.D, and one of the 33 towns made up of the ethnic group called Remo in Yoruba land popularly called Remo metalelogbon.

Ilishan Remo town as known today started as a hamlet at an undated period, with the coming of Liworu from Ile-Ife, with his wife Uren. Liworu or Olomu as he was also called arrived at Odokule to Igborule and later to the present Iworu due to the problem of erosion. The present day Ilishan comprises of the following settlements: Iworu, Idogan, Idokosi, Molado, Orubo, Ile, and Orubo Oko. These settlements were formerly separate villages with separate leadership and deities but with the Yoruba inter-tribal wars most of them became extinct or desolate, thereby forcing most of the people to join other settlements, some of these people are now at Ilishan, Ilara Irolu, Ikenne and Iperu townships.

Previously surrounded by virgin forests, Ilishan Remo appears to be the most centrally located town in the heart of Remo Land, even though politically it is part of Remo North of Remo land. Because of its shape, almost two thirds of its population inhabits the center of the town. Badmus (2002) asserted that though culturally active, the community is highly religious. Majority of its people are Christians. There are also Muslims whose origin is linked with migration from Ijebuland.

Most indigenes of Ilishan Remo community are farmers, while others are traders. There are also artisans. Ilishan farmers are noted for their food crops such as various types of yam especially the one called alo pepper of different kinds, cassava, cocoyam, maize, oranges and groundnut, cocoa, cashew and kola nuts.

Apart from farming, Ilishan indigenes practiced various forms of craftsmanship both in smelting of minerals, goldsmithing, pottery, calabash making and basket weaving. Woodcarving is also very common in Ilishan.

Statement of the Problem

For Indigenous Knowledge to be viewed as unique, it has to be specific to a locality and be readily passed on orally or through experience from one generation to the next. This knowledge contributes to the quality of life in the places they are produced, and can enhance the image and prestige of the local area. Hence Indigenous Knowledge could serve as a source of income to the community.

It has been observed that the indigenous knowledge accumulated over generations by local communities is sometimes appropriated by so called experts without any compensation to the producers of such knowledge in spite of its tremendous potential to yield economic returns. Rarely are indigenous people able to lay claim to the special knowledge they possess and to yield economic benefits from it through intellectual property law.

This research therefore sought to find out the state of indigenous knowledge in Ilishan Remo, Ogun State and whether there are any protective measure in place for the protection of indigenous knowledge from misappropriation and illegitimate acquisition.

Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to investigate the state of indigenous knowledge in Ilishan Remo, Ogun State and whether there are any protective measure in place for the protection of indigenous knowledge from misappropriation and illegitimate acquisition of intellectual property right. In doing this, the specific objectives will be:

  1. To find out the types of Indigenous Knowledge in Ilishan Remo Land.

  2. To identify the importance/use of the knowledge

  3. To find out instances where IK has been misappropriated in Ilishan Remo

  4. To identify measures that are being used to protect Indigenous Knowledge from misappropriation and illegitimate acquisition in Ilishan Remo land.

  5. To find out the challenges faced in the implementation of this protection.

    Significance of the Study

    The result of this study will help indigenous people especially Ilishan Remo community to avoid the idea of thinking...

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