By Rotimi Ijikanmi
Abuja – The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed declared on Monday in Abuja that the Federal Government is walking its talk and taking concrete steps to stamp out piracy of intellectual property.
The minister said this when he declared open the first interface meeting of the Police and major stakeholders in the creative industry to fight piracy.
“This meeting is evident that government’s commitment to fighting piracy and placing the creative industry in its rightful position is not just about talk.
“We are carrying along all the stakeholders in the industry and my job here is to inaugurate this meeting.
“We believe that with the caliber of stakeholders here and two Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIG) representing the Nigeria Police Force, you will be able to agree on the way to put an end to piracy,’’ he said.
The minister stressed that piracy, if left unchecked would become a monster that would destroy the entire creative industry.
He recalled that one of the major challenges raised at the Creative Industry Summit held recently in Lagos was the menace of piracy.
Mohammed said that in implementing some of the resolutions at the summit, he led a team of stakeholders to the Inspector-General of Police, to seek collaboration with the law enforcement agency in fighting piracy.
The minister added that the aftermath of the interaction with the Police was the interface meeting on ending piracy.
He tasked the meeting to ensure that whatever form of enforcement to be adopted, it must be regular and sustained.
Speaking in the same vein, Mr Adedayo Coker, the Executive Director of the National Film and Video Censors Board, said that the interface meeting was an indication that the industry’s players were ready for the fight against piracy.
Chief Tony Okoroji, the Chaiman of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) said “It is a historic day for the creative industry and a warning for pirates to go and look for something else to do’’.
“This team will collaborate with the Police to ensure that wherever pirate may be in the country, they will fish them out and make life uncomfortable for them,’’ he said.
Igwe Gabosky, one of the pioneer Nollywood distributors seized the opportunity of the meeting to narrate how pirate wrecked his company and made him bankrupt.
He said he was one of the beneficiaries of the Bank of Industry (BoI)’ intervention fund in developing the creative industry.
Gabosky said he was empowered by BoI with over one billion naira to create the biggest media distribution company for intellectual property in Africa.
“The first job I was to distribute was “Half of a Yellow Sun’’.
“But, before I could finish printing, pirates had released the fake copies of the film on the streets and sold them for little money.
“The second job was “30 Days in Atlanta’’ by AY; Pirate also took over and distributed pirated copies of the films on the streets and AY was crying.
“The third was October 1, by Kunle Afolayan; I was in South Africa negotiating for ITS distribution when I was called and told that the film was already on the streets.
“The activities of the pirates crumbled the distribution companies and the N500 million I had already collected from BoI, I could not pay back till date.
“The Bank is now trying to take over all my property which I used as collateral,’’ he said.
Gabosky said that many people in the industry had died because of frustration inflicted on them by pirates.
“We know these people that are pirating these works; Piracy is like terrorism.
“If you go to Alaba International market in Lagos, there are people that believe that the market is a sovereign state inside Nigeria where copyright laws cannot be enforced.
“I am glad today that the Nigeria Police has risen up and decided to answer us,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Police was represented at the meeting by two DIGs – Mr Hyacinth Medugu , the DIG in charge of Criminal Intelligence and Investigation and Habila Joshak the DIG in charge of Operations.
According to Medugu, pirates are killers who send the owners of pirated intellectual works to early graves and they should be treated as murderers.
He gave assurances and commitment of the I-G to work with the stakeholders to stamp out piracy.
Some of the stakeholders at the meeting included a Nollywood producer, Prince Tony Princewill and the President of Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria, Abdullahi Maikan-Usman.
Also at the meeting were Ms Tundun Aderibigbe from House of Tara, a beauty outfit and Prof. Bankole Sodipo, a lawyer. (NAN)
By Rotimi Ijikanmi